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‘Personality: The Lloyd Price Musical’ perfect for Black Music Month

Recently, on what would have been Lloyd Price’s 90th birthday, the producers of “Personality: The Lloyd Price Musical” announced casting for the show’s Chicago premiere. The critically acclaimed new musical celebrating the life, career, and unforgettable songs of Price, including “Stagger Lee,” “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” and his trademark song, “Personality,” runs through performances through Labor Day.

We all know about the unifying power of music, and no one’s sound brought people together quite like the trailblazing Price who became a legend in the 20th century.

From humble beginnings in his hometown of Kenner, Louisiana, Price overcame incredible obstacles on his way to a revolutionary musical career. As a young Black recording artist in the segregated Deep South of the pre-Civil Rights Era, Price’s success was even more remarkable.

Armed with determination and a soulful sound, Price skyrocketed to stardom in 1952 when his single “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” hit No. 1 on the R&B charts, making him the first teenager to sell over a million records and to earn a Gold Record.

Price became a crossover hit, popular with both Black and white kids, shattering the “race records” barrier. However, the path to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in which he was inducted in 1998, was a winding one: immediately after the success of his first record, he was drafted to fight in the Korean War in 1953.

But Price, a master of reinvention, would find his footing time and again. He became the first Black man to open a nightclub below Harlem in New York City, and the first recording artist of any color to create his own record label, generating more hits like “Stagger Lee” and “Personality” and spreading the New Orleans R&B sound throughout the world.

Saint Aubyn, who created the role of Lloyd Price in the world premiere of “Personality” last year at People’s Light in Pennsylvania, will once again play the trailblazing Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legend. Aubyn starred on Broadway in “The Carole King Musical” and was an original cast member of “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations.”

Among other local and regional actors, Broadway veteran Stanley Wayne Mathis (“Jelly’s Last Jam,” ”The Lion King” and “Kiss Me, Kate”), will play Harold Logan, Price’s longtime promoter, collaborator, and business partner. Mathis also created the role of Logan in the People’s Light production.

Darian Peer, whose credits include “Choir Boy” at Yale Rep and “Part of the Plan” at Tennessee Performing Arts Center, will play young Lloyd Price.

Chicago native Alexandria Reese, who has appeared in “Intimate Apparel” at Weathervane Theatre and “Raisin” at Axelrod Performing Arts Center, will play the role of Price’s first wife, Emma.

The world premiere of “Personality: The Lloyd Price Musical” played last year at People’s Light in Malvern, Pennsylvania, where the Philadelphia Inquirer cheered, “Personality beautifully recalls Lloyd Price’s life and legacy,” and The Broad Street Review raved, “Personality is visually captivating and musically joyous. [Jeffrey] Madoff [who wrote the book based on extensive conversations with Price] chronicles Price’s travails and triumphs in a thought-provoking look at the music industry and the challenges of being a Black American.”

The musical will be performed at the beautifully renovated Studebaker Theater at the historic Fine Arts Building (410 S. Michigan Ave.). Tickets are available at

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is the Entertainment Editor for the Chicago Crusader. She is a National Newspaper Publishers Association ‘Entertainment Writing’ award winner, contributor to “Rust Belt Chicago” and the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood: South Side of Chicago.” For info, Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago (

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