White Actress Banned from Singing "And I Am Telling You" Because She's Not Black...No Seriously


There are certain musical numbers that I consider "PhD's in Singing". Songs like "Soliloquy" or "Glitter and be Gay", to master them is an accomplishment reserved for truly talented singers. Another song in this repertoire would be "And I Am Telling You" from Dreamgirls. Many have tried to master it, very few have succeeded. Nevertheless, it's one of the most popular show tunes performed in concerts and cabarets today. 

While many might choose to stay away from such a number, actress Mazz Murray was ready to take it on for her upcoming concert "The Best of the West End". That was until she was told that she was banned from doing so, because she's white. 

According to the Daily Mail, "when the show’s producers, Seventh Sense, approached the musical’s owners to ask permission to use the ballad they replied that it was not ‘appropriate’ for a white woman to sing it."

The article doesn't state who the producers talked to. We don't know if it was Henry Krieger, Tams-Witmark, representatives from Geffen Records or the Shubert Organization. But whoever denied permission because the actress happened to be white is in the wrong. 

While I myself and this site have advocated for equal representation on stage and screen, I also believe in context and that each situation needs to be looked at individually. While I certainly would have an issue with a white woman playing the role of  Effie in a production or concert of Dreamgirls, I don't see an issue with a white woman singing it, by itself, in a concert. The song isn't about race, doesn't allude to race so I don't really see what the problem is. 

And before anyone says differently, this is much different than the controversy involving Sierra Boggess portraying the role of Maria in a concert of West Side Story. In that situation, she was playing the entire role, not just singing a song. Also, she had previously stated that she would never play that role again before signing on to play it again. 

Also, while I don't have an issue with Murray just singing the number in a concert, I do have an issue that she played the role of Effie in a production of Dreamgirls which featured an entirlely white Dreamettes(see below). 


Could this banning stem from this production? Maybe. Is it an overreaction to prevent potential backlash? More likely. Is it a step too far? Definitely. Does it help in the fight for equal representation on stage? Not at all.