The Color Purple Music Director’s Note 

By Christie Chiles Twillie 

In a world that fills us with so many options for learning, seldom does one take the journey of immersing themselves in stories like that of The Color Purple. This beautifully complex and at times heartbreaking and heartwarming story gives us no choice but to be unconsciously vulnerable to the emotions we often suppress. It catches us off guard even though so many of us have seen the movie and read the story. 

Historically, we understand the circumstances and while we have made progress, there are still many reasons that Celie’s story is still relevant right now. When a character’s journey is as vivid as hers, we live and experience what it means to exist with and without love, with and without joy, with and without family, and with and without pain. On her behalf, we yearn for societal change all the while knowing that in Celie’s time…in her place, time is as slow as molasses and change, when it happened, could only be felt as a jubilant revelation. In Celie’s time… our past, the persistence of hope is what sustains her even when it seems impossible for her to go on. The beauty and strength that exists within her is the legacy that we, Black women, carry with us. It’s what we silently wield for survival and success and that we protect deep within our caring souls.

For me personally, the music of The Color Purple seeps out of our soul and winds us back through time. Every song and transition rely on each character and what they are experiencing at that moment. The brilliant orchestration reminds us of “when we are” in time, and where we are geographically. The orchestra’s instruments are played according to the traditions of Black Southern Americana and we are gripped by each genre that was birthed by Black communities and that gave soul to the music of the future. 

The music is touching. Is there anything more magical than hearing two little girls, sisters, singing and playing a hand game, sharing secrets and playing carefree? What reminds us of the iconic nature of the blues more than guitar played with a finger slide? How can we ignore the joy of Sunday morning church services and the voices that lift to the sky and shake the pews with praise? Could we ever ignore the janky style of good ol’ juke joint music that set souls and bodies free when the sun went down over the water? 

Historically this music changed the world and even now as we listen and watch this story, it impacts us viscerally. Our hearts melt as we hear the ballads that are heartbreakers and reason to fall into the deepest most vulnerable love. This music, and Celie’s life hold lessons that we must absorb without bias and without the fear of how all of it will change us by the end. Most likely you won’t leave this show without crying; but you also won’t leave without feeling a tremendous purpose to discover what you want your life’s journey to be.