Penguin Rep Theatre (Joe Brancato, Artistic Director & Andrew M. Horn, Executive Director) & Edmund Gaynes

 in association with Don & Lizanne Mitchell present


A musical by Angelo Parra. Musical Direction Miche Braden; Conceived and directed by Joe Brancato. Miche Braden stars as the legendary Bessie Smith. It’s 1937 and the final performance of Bessie, as the fiesty singer regales her audience with tales from her life, and many loves and losses. Miche Braden not only captures the soulful richness of the singing style of the “Empress of the Blues” and one of the greatest singers of her era, but the essence of her boozy, fiesty personality.

“The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith" had its world premiere at Penguin Rep Theatre (Joe Brancato, Artistic Director, and Andrew Horn, Executive Director) in Stony Point, New York.


Terrific! Fills every molecule of airspace with the joy of the Blues.

- NY Times

“A Big Voice Full of Blues, Bawdy and Unapologetic: When Miche Braden plants herself at the front of the stage, shimmies a little and sings the blues, THE DEVIL’S MUSIC: THE LIFE & BLUES OF BESSIE SMITH finds its reason for being. As Bessie, Ms. Braden has the requisite big voice — she knows when to let it soar and when to keep it at an insinuatingly low simmer — and her committed performance gives you glimmers of what the bawdy-talking, hooch-swilling (she hates the store-bought stuff), unapologetically bisexual Bessie must have been like. Ms. Braden keeps THE DEVIL’S MUSIC, a Penguin Rep production, consistently entertaining. ”  – The New York Times

“Miche Braden delivers a powerhouse performance, doing a brassy, melodic turn as a lusty, hard-drinking, irrepressible Bessie Smith, who was known as the “Empress of the Blues”. Braden fully commands the stage, sassing the audience and sashaying around like the hard-living prima donna Smith was. Joe Brancato’s artful direction and Braden’s charisma and honesty of emotion keep the energy flowing.”– Associated Press

“When Miche Braden sings -- especially her soulful “St. Louis Blues” and the most heartbreaking rendition of “I Ain’t Got Nobody” you’re ever likely to hear -- THE DEVIL’S MUSIC delivers a little bit of heaven.” - Time Out New York

“If there’s a heaven for entertainers, the gateway must be St. Luke’s Theatre. Miche Braden thankfully delivers in powerhouse fashion. Her rendition of “I Ain’t Got Nobody” is haunting, while “St. Louis Blues,” featuring a lascivious duet with her sax player, perfectly captures Smith’s notoriously earthy side. You’ll be a ‘Devil’s’ advocate!” - New York Post

“Miche Braden as Bessie commands the stage like an empress -- which is only fitting because Bessie Smith was known as The Empress of the Blues. She gives a towering performance.” - Theatremania

“Angelo Parra’s play, directed by Joe Brancato, begins as the great American singer and her three-man band straggle into an after-hours club in Memphis for a night of music-making, heavy drinking, and storytelling. Miche Braden plays Smith (she’s also the show’s music director) with the requisite verve, swagger, and bawdiness.” - The New Yorker