( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Melba Moore Celebrate Career Milestone and 2023 Recipient of Hollywood Walk of Fame
ENSPIRE Contributor: Jacara Watkins
Melba Moore, four-time Grammy Nominee and Tony Award winner celebrating her 60-year career. Over her lifetime, Melba broke down the barriers of Hollywood by becoming the first Black actress to replace a white actress on Broadway in her role as Fantine received many achievements like the Joseph R. Biden Lifetime Achievement Award to the soundtrack of Fighting Temptation “Time To Come Home” featuring Melba Moore, Beyoncé, and Angie Stone certified Gold.
Another one of Melba’s successes is the rendition of “Lift Every Voice & Sing” recorded in 1990 entered the Congressional Record as Official Black National Anthem and was recorded in history. Inspired by her daughter Charli Huggins, legendary Melba released a new album “Imagine” where Charli Huggins, Charli’s uncle, and Beau Huggins is the executive producer. Described as a family affair as it came in more creative freedom according to Melba who “trusted them and asked them to put the songs together in a sequence to see what they all sounded like” using words like “jazzy” to describe the song’s tone.
Before becoming the iconic Tony-winning Broadway star and Grammy nominee, Melba was a teacher for Newark Public Schools where she noticed how children reacted to her singing during music lessons which led her to change her career. She got in contact with singer and songwriter Valerie Simpson who suggested she sing backup for musicians like Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, and Aretha Franklin. Galt MacDermont, a Grammy-winning composer visited and was enamored that he suggested working for him where he can search for roles for his Broadway musical “Hair.”
Out of the vocalist, Melba was the only one who took an interest and led to a road of success that opened doors for African American broadway singers and actresses like Audra McDonald became the first performer to win six Tonys to Emilie Kohatchou a Chicago-born actress who made history as the first Black actor to play Christine Daaè in the biggest musical Phantom Of The Opera.
Below is a list of her accomplishments and career anniversaries:
- First African-American woman to perform the leading role of Fantine in Les Misérables.
- First Female Pop/R&B artist to do a nonoperatic solo concert at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House and the Olympia in Paris.
- 2023 Hollywood Walk of Fame recipient.
- 2022 Presidential Volunteer Service Award.
- 2012 Recipient of the Atlantic Black Theatre Festival Theatre Legend Award.
- Inducted into the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame on October 4, 2015, in Detroit.
- First Black Actress to win a Tony Award for the 1970 musical “Purlie.”
- Melba and Songwriter Clifton Davis became the first Black couple to co-host a weekly variety series, The Melba Moore/Clifton Davis Show, on CBS-TV in the summer of 1972.
- 55th anniversary of her role as Dionne in the original Broadway production of Hair.
- 45th anniversary of the release of “You Stepped Into My Life” which became a major club hit. It reached #17 on the Billboard ranking of R&B singles
- 45th anniversary of her role as Marsinah in the original production of the musical Timbuktu!
- The first anniversary of Imagine which was nominated for Album of the Year in the SoulTracks Readers’ Choice Awards.
- 40th anniversary of the release of Never Say Never, her 13th album which peaked at #9 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
- 20th anniversary of her role as Bessie Cooley in The Fighting Temptations, a musical comedy film.