Rondo '56: Remembering St Paul's Black Main Street
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Hamline United Methodist Church, 1514 Englewood Ave, St Paul, MN 55104
A Musical Revue written and created by Dan Chouinard in collaboration with T Mychael Rambo, Thomasina Petrus, and Charmin Michelle.
With its four musical hosts, Rondo '56 paints a portrait in music and stories of St. Paul's thriving Black neighborhood in the decade before the freeway sliced it down the middle for the sake of progress.
Brimming with the iconic R&B favorites from the ten years following World War II, "Rondo '56" captures the heart and soul of the two-mile long neighborhood on either side of Rondo Avenue, just west of the Minnesota State Capitol, that was a vibrant and tight-knit community – home to most of St. Paul's Black population. Streets and schools were crowded. Businesses thrived. Doors to homes were left unlocked and the kids all knew they were being watched by everybody else's parents as well as their own. Stepping into the nascent Civil Rights era with dignity and determination this community would find itself targeted -- like so many other Black and poor neighborhoods of the mid century -- by massive government road and housing projects touted as urban renewal.
"Rondo '56" features the songs of such revered stars of the '40s and '50s as Louis Jordan, Nat King Cole, Ruth Brown, Dinah Washington, Mahalia Jackson and many more. A stunning and timely evocation of a community decimated by the powers that be, and revisited from our own time of hope, protest and civic renewal.
Rondo '56 was created in 2010 by Dan Chouinard with the help of the MN Historical Society, Rondo elders, and performer colleagues who lived in Rondo. This new edition of the show for Crooners is substantially updated in collaboration with co-hosts T Mychael Rambo, Thomasina Petrus and Charmin Michelle.
- Mychael Rambo, Thomasina Petrus and Charmin Michelle: vocals and narration
Dan Chouinard: piano and narration