Linda Hopkins | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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In 1936, 11-year-old Linda Hopkins encountered the two great musical influences of her life: Bessie Smith, whose raw but regal blues style is echoed in Hopkins's own singing, and Mahalia Jackson, who encouraged Hopkins to take up church music professionally. In the late 1940s, Hopkins crossed over into jazz; some 20 years later, she launched a Broadway musical theater career with performances in Purlie, the innovative Inner City (for which she won a Tony award), and her one-woman hit Me and Bessie. These days, she divides her time between the theater--her new revue Black and Blue ran five months in Paris last year and is set for Broadway next fall--and club gigs; her repertoire includes traditional classic blues, gospel, and theater songs, all performed with earthy, full-bodied, solid swinging vitality. Tonight through Sunday, George's, 230 W. Kinzie; 644-2290.

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