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  • Donny Thompson, M.S., NPA

Paradise Blue Suite

In 2015, I was hired to write the music for a new play called PARADISE BLUE. The award-winning playwright, Dominique Morisseau (often compared to the great August Wilson), is a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, Obie Award-winner, Kennedy Prize for Drama Award winner and Steinberg Playwright Award winner. Ms. Morisseau also won the L. Arnold Weissberger Award and the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award for PARADISE BLUE, which was premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival ( in July of 2015. It was directed by Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson (The Piano Lesson, Jitney) and will be continuing its journey by coming to New York City for a limited run at the Signature Theatre ( from April 24th - June 3rd, 2018. Here is a brief description of the play:

In 1949, Detroit’s Blackbottom neighborhood is gentrifying. Blue, a troubled trumpeter and the owner of Paradise Club, is torn between remaining in Blackbottom with his loyal lover Pumpkin or leaving behind a traumatic past. But when the arrival of a mysterious woman stirs up tensions, the fate of Paradise Club hangs in the balance. It is a thrilling and timely look at the changes a community endures to find its resilience.

Cast (at the Williamstown Theatre Festival):

Blue - Blair Underwood

Pumpkin - Kristolyn Lloyd

Silver - De'Adre Aziza

P-Sam - Andre Holland

Corn - Keith Randolph Smith

I am thrilled to have composed and recorded the music for this incredible play. I am currently working on a suite based on the music I wrote for PARADISE BLUE. I plan on premiering this new suite on August 15th in Las Vegas, at a special event and fundraiser. We will be celebrating the launch of the newly formed non-profit organization, Jazz Outreach Initiative (JOi)( and the new Jazz Studies Program at Nevada School of the Arts (which I am honored to be the Artistic Advisor of) ( Performing with me for this special event will be the faculty members of the NSA Jazz Program. This collaborative effort is hopefully just the first of many between JOi and NSA. Let’s make a difference through music!

-Kenny Rampton

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