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Singer uses her voice to honor historic St. Louis women

"Just hearing these women’s stories, they’ll be touched the same way that I am."

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis has a long and distinguished list of successful women and many of them had to endure heartache. 

Local singer and actress Laka is taking their stories to the stage.

“I am so inspired by these women,” said Laka.

Laka along with The Midnight Company artist director Joe Hanrahan have put together a one woman show called St. Louis Woman. The pair is hard at work on it.

“We are refining it,” said Hanrahan.

The performance centers around six history-making St. Louis women. Josephine Baker, Tina Turner, Katherine Dunham, Wille Mae Ford, Maya Angelou, and Ann Peebles are profiled.

“Giants in St. Louis and on the artistic scene. They’re icons,” said Hanrahan.

Laka and Hanrahan appreciate how the women remained determined in finding their purpose.

“None of these women had easy lives. They had to fight through things,” Hanrahan told 5 On Your Side.

“Josephine Baker’s story has really touched me the most. Literally hungry. Hungry to make it. Hungry to improve her life. Hungry to dream a dream,” Laka said.

Laka started to dream about becoming a singer at a young age.

“When I was a little girl in church,” she said.

Hanrahan is impressed by her voice. 

“Incredible singer you’re ever going to hear,” he said.

But the performance calls for Laka to do much more than her ability to carry a tune. She will employ all of her talents.

“She’s acting and she’s dancing,” said Hanrahan.

“Definitely is stretching me, but in all the right ways,” said Laka.

The anticipation of the show has drawn the attention of the media. Laka is on the cover of the September edition of St. Louis magazine. But it isn’t the stress she’s feeling.

“It was already a lot of pressure because of these great names,” she said.

It is their greatness she wants the audience to better understand. She wants her performance to educate and motivate the public.

“Just hearing these women’s stories, they’ll be touched the same way that I am,” she said.

She is hoping that by telling the stories of the St. Louis women who dared to defy the odds and then succeeded will inspire playgoers to do things in their own lives.

“That inspiration to just go after your dreams, have the courage to dream and go for it,” she said. 

St. Louis Woman opens on Oct. 6 at the .ZACK theatre on Locust Street in Midtown.  If you’d like to learn more about the show, click here.

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