For Immediate Release
Brittany Racca
(337) 365-1540
(888) 942-3742
Bunk Johnson Out of the Shadows: A Blues Poem
by Ifa Bayeza
NEW IBERIA, La. -- The Shadows-on-the-Teche and the Bunk Johnson Jazz Arts and Heritage Festival invite you to attend the theatrical performance of Bunk Johnson Out of the Shadows: A Blues Poem on Sat., Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. in the gardens of the Shadows. Following the performance, attendees will second line down historic Main Street to the Sliman Theatre for the Performing Arts with New Iberia’s own Bunk Johnson Brazz Band for a concert featuring music by Bunk Johnson.

Written by award-winning theater artist and novelist Ifa Bayeza, Bunk Johnson is a one-act dramatic work that focuses on William G. “Bunk” Johnson (c. 1880-1949), an accomplished jazz trumpeter, who performed in concert halls and on stage from California to New York with the Charles “Buddy” Bolden band and jazz legends Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong. After his travels, Johnson always returned to his chosen hometown of New Iberia where he was known to practice his trumpet and work odd jobs including as yardman at the Shadows-on-the-Teche.

“I’ve spent the past 20 years celebrating Bunk Johnson, but this project presents an entirely undiscovered Bunk, ” says Charles Porter, president of the board for the Bunk Johnson Jazz Arts and Heritage Festival. It’s both a love story and a musical.”

Creative talents from around the country and New Iberia are coming together to help present this performance.

Carl Hancock Rux, American poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, actor, director, and singer/songwriter, will direct the production. Rux is the author of several books including Village Voice Literary Prize-winning Pagan Operetta, the novel Asphalt, and the Obie Award-winning play Talk. Rux also has four CDs to his credit and is a frequent collaborator in the fields of dance, theater, film, and contemporary art having worked with Nona Hendryx, Robert Wilson, Kenny Leon, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Stanley Nelson Jr., and others. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the New York Foundation for the Arts Prize; NYFA Gregory Millard Playwright in Residence Fellow; National Endowment for the Arts/Theater Communications Group Playwright in Residence Fellow; Bessie Schomburg award; and the coveted CalArts/Herb Alpert Award in the Arts.

Acting as choral director will be Shawn Wallace, a multi-talented musical artist in styles ranging from Gospel to Jazz to Hip-Hop and beyond. As keyboardist, Wallace has worked with artists such as Common, Ice Cube, Dwele, Estelle, Erykah Badu, Renée Neufville, Rakim, Eric Roberson, Maggie Brown, Ugochi, among others. Wallace studied Music Theory and Composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently serving as Composer and Music Director for Storycatchers Theatre in Chicago.

The roles of Bunk and Young Maud, his wife, will be played by Dr. Baron Kelly and New Iberia native Anamé Rose, previously Sasha Small. Dr. Kelly is a four-time Fulbright Scholar and an internationally recognized critic, historian, practitioner, and scholar. His most recent directing credits include The Lucky One for Feng Cheng University and Ray Cooney’s Out of Order for National Chung Cheng University both in Taiwan. He has taught, lectured, and performed in numerous countries across Asia and Europe. His Broadway credits include Salome with Al Pacino and Electra with the late Colleen Dewhurst. Dr. Kelly currently heads the Acting Program at the University of Louisville.

In 2014, Rose acted in an unreleased movie alongside Golden Brooks and the late Tommy Ford who is best known for his role on the Martin sitcom. She was a contestant on Season 16 of American Idol and is singing with a newly formed band at festivals and other engagements. She currently attends the Musician’s Institute on the world-famous Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Admission is $35 for reserved seats and $25 for general admission. Tickets can be purchased online and at the Shadows Visitor Center. Advance purchase is encouraged. The Shadows gate will open at 2:30 p.m. the day of the performance. For more information, contact Jayd Buteaux at, or (337) 369-6446.

Bunk Johnson Out of the Shadows is funded through a grant from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional support was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

To produce this dramatic work, the Shadows has partnered with the Bunk Johnson Jazz, Arts, and Heritage Festival; City of New Iberia and its Main Street Program; and the Iberia Parish Library.

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is a multi-year initiative led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in partnership with the Ford Foundation, the JPB Foundation, the Open Society Foundations and other partners, working to make an important and lasting contribution to our cultural landscape by elevating the stories and places of African American achievement and activism.

About the Shadows-on-the-Teche:
The Shadows-on-the-Teche, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, opened to the public in 1961 with the mission to preserve the buildings, landscape, collections, and historical integrity of the site; to research and interpret through education programs a 19th century southern Louisiana plantation economy and community and their evolution; and to encourage an appreciation of and interest in historic preservation. The National Trust, which owns and operates the Shadows, is a private, non-profit organization. The Shadows does not receive funding from state, parish, or city government. The site supports itself through admissions, special programs and events, and donations to the Friends of the Shadows. For more information, visit

The Iberia Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official parish marketing agency promoting New Iberia, Avery Island, Jefferson Island, Jeanerette, Loreauville and Delcambre as a destination. Marketing programs target leisure travelers, business travelers, media, entertainment industry, and the travel trade including group tour planners, meeting planners, sports planners and special event planners. The bureau operates a parish welcome center in New Iberia, Louisiana.
For more information on parish events and tourism assets, call the bureau at 337-365-1540 or visit