People’s Light Presents Spiritual Uprising, a Virtual Concert from the Showstopping Zonya Love

Conceived, Written, Arranged, and Performed by Zonya Love

Filmed and Edited in Partnership with PhillyCAM

Director of Photography: Artina Michelle

Sponsored by PECO

With additional support from The Connelly Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts

Nationally acclaimed actor-musician Zonya Love brings her forthcoming collection of reimagined Negro Spirituals to the People’s Light stage in Spiritual Uprisingthe latest offering to stream as part of the Theatre’s Winter/Spring Digital Season. In this filmed concert event, Love leads her band through evocative new renditions of songs such as “Wade in the Water” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” while illustrating the music’s deep cultural and historical significance. Spiritual Uprising is available to stream April 2 – May 2 for $15 per household with a People’s Light online account. Run time is 75 minutes. Spiritual Uprising is best enjoyed by viewers 10+. Learn more at

“A Carolina country girl, I grew up singing in a hand clapping, foot stomping church.” Zonya Love is an immensely sought-after singer, actor, and creator who last wowed People’s Light audiences in 2017’s Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole. Love is known for her portrayal of Celie in Broadway’s The Color Purple, as well as the first national tour of Avenue Q. She has performed internationally, including at the famed Carnegie Hall and as a member of the Grammy-nominated and Tony Award recipients Broadway Inspirational Voices (BIV). Love has recorded with the band The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, performed in Mariah Carey’s 2014 Christmas Spectacular, and provided background vocals for television shows America’s Got Talent, Smash, and The David Letterman Show. Love is a founding member of the newly created event band House OV Mahogany and a proud member of BOLD, an organization established in 2015 that supports and uplifts black womyn in the entertainment industry.

In many ways, Spiritual Uprising is Love’s response to the events of 2020. The idea to record an album of Negro Spirituals first occurred to Love in 2015, when she was doing a show about the Freedom Riders. “I tucked the idea away but would revisit it from time to time. Fast forward to 2020 when the infection of racism was coming to a head in a way that the masses could no longer ignore,” she explains.

“Before the pandemic, it felt as if my community had been screaming for justice in a soundproof room,” Love continues. “But while the world was halted, it saw and heard what my people had been experiencing for years, decades, centuries—when the murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement was captured on video in real time. I was grateful that many had been authentically awoken. However, I dove into despair and could not escape the darkness. I would try to encourage myself by singing ‘This Little Light of Mine’ or ‘Let My People Go.’ The Negro Spirituals, the songs of my ancestors, comforted me, lifted me out of the darkness, and I was reminded of my assignment.”

Love is joined onstage by Music Director, Pianist, and Supporting Vocalist Dionne McClain-Freeney; Supporting Vocalists Crystal Joy and Helen White; and Percussionist Senfu Stoney. While the songs performed are traditional Negro Spirituals, the arrangements are something new. “I really hope Spiritual Uprising becomes a flashpoint for making these songs become more present, and more of what we should really lean into for inspiration,” says McClain-Freeney.

Love adds, “My goal is to attract more young people to this music. These arrangements could hopefully bridge the gap for people who haven’t been exposed to Negro Spirituals, and lead them on a path to discover the original songs.”

Spiritual Uprising was filmed on the Leonard C. Haas Stage at People’s Light March 4-5, 2021. People’s Light followed all CDC protocols, as well as implemented additional protections to assure the health and safety of all artists and staff involved in the production.

Spiritual Uprising is digitally streamed for $15 at with an online account. Once purchased, the virtual concert can be enjoyed by everyone in the household anytime, any number of times through May 2, 2021. Click here for more information about streaming digital content.

Accessibility offerings for Spiritual Uprising include optional closed captioning, and an audio-described version available April 10th. These options appear automatically in each viewer’s online account as they become available.

People’s Light offers a range of discounts to stream digital titles, including $10 access for theatre industry professionals and 25% off for military families, teachers, and frontline healthcare workers.

Questions? Leave a voicemail at 610.644.3500 or email and a member of the Box Office will be in touch as soon as possible. Please note that the People’s Light campus is closed to the public and staff members are working remotely Monday through Friday.

People’s Light is offering free streaming of Spiritual Uprising in educational settings, along with educational resources like historical source material, discussion and writing prompts, pre-recorded video interviews about the project, virtual Q&A opportunities, reflection and assessment tools, and access to the People’s Light Education Team. Learn more at Spiritual Uprising: For Educators

Before Spiritual Uprising rehearsals began, People’s Light Resident Dramaturg & EDI Coordinator Gina Pisasale sat down for an in-depth Zoom discussion with creator Zonya Love, members of the creative team, and local experts to get the full “scoop” on Spiritual Uprising. Guest panelists include Zonya Love, Spiritual Uprising Creator and Lead Performer; Arreon Harley-Emerson, Director of Music & Operations at the Choir School of Delaware; Steve H. Broadnax III, Resident Director at People’s Light; and Dionne McClain-Freeney, Spiritual Uprising Music Director. For their insights into the global and enduring impact of Negro Spirituals, the particular connection between these songs and our region, unsung heroes of Black American music, and much more, watch the full conversation here.

Zonya Love                                                   Creator / Music Supervisor / Lead Performer
Dionne McClain-Freeney                            Music Director / Pianist / Supporting Vocalist
Crystal Joy                                                    Supporting Vocalist
Senfu Stoney                                                Percussionist
Helen White                                                 Supporting Vocalist
Artina Michelle                                             Director of Photography
Sergio Galeano                                             Editor / Camera Operator
Aaron Brokenbough                                    Camera Operator
Charles T. Brastow                                       Director of Production
Steve H. Broadnax III                                  Consulting Director
Kate Coots                                                    Scenic Charge Artist
Brent Hoyer                                                  Sound Design / Engineer
Dylan Jamison                                              Assistant Technical Director
Gregory Scott Miller                                    Lighting Designer
Joelle Phillips                                               Makeup
Sarah Pierce                                                 Props
Jennifer Povish                                             Wardrobe

Founded in 1974, People’s Light serves as one of Pennsylvania’s largest professional non-profit theatres, known for forging cultural and civic connections throughout the region with an eclectic mix of productions and innovative work with young people.


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