Gayle is a die-hard fan of Broadway's The Color Purple—she's seen it 13 times! Gayle is joined by Elisabeth Withers-Mendes, who plays Shug Avery in the musical, to talk about her role and her new solo album.
Having had no prior acting experience, Elisabeth tells Gayle that Shug Avery was the role of a lifetime. At the time, Elisabeth was ready to start a new phase of her life and was planning on cutting down on her singing work to raise her then-three-month-old daughter, Chelsea. But when close friends Nick and Valerie Simpson encouraged Elisabeth to try out for the role, she says she couldn't pass it up. After a nerve-wracking series of auditions, Elisabeth was offered the part.
"Girl, I just could not stop crying," Elisabeth says. "And I thought, 'What better things could happen? I've got my best friend as my husband. I've got a healthy daughter and a role on Broadway and I've never done Broadway! So that was just the beginning of wonderful things. It's been Christmas for me."
In addition to her Broadway work, Elisabeth says she's keeping busy writing and performing her own songs. Her debut album, It Can Happen to Anyone, features a mix of R&B, pop, jazz and more. "I feel fortunate," Elisabeth says. "I feel blessed—I really, really do."