Cool as Hell Theatre

Oakland Opera Theater: Queenie Pie

Michael Rice talks to some of the team behind the Oakland Opera Theatre's production of Queenie Pie, Duke Ellington's unfinished opera about the life of Madame CJ Walker, the first African-American female millionaire.

Edward "Duke" Ellington's (1899-1974) last large-scale work and only opera, Queenie Pie, was written as a tribute to Madame C. J. Walker. The daughter of slaves, Madame Walker invented a hair straightener and discovered the virtues of mail order and door-to-door sales, thereby allowing her clients to buy cosmetics and hair products without leaving their homes. For this innovation she became the first female African-American millionaire.

Queenie Pie is at the Oakland Opera Theater through May 25, 2008. For tickets and information visit

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