Melba Moore Headlines the 2022 Westhampton Beach Project

Melba Moore
Melba Moore
Courtesy WHB Project

Westhampton Beach goes into full celebration mode this weekend, July 29–30, when the fourth annual Westhampton Beach Project brings fantastic contemporary dance, live music, and amazing local eats to the Great Lawn on Main Street. The free weekend of fun will culminate with a performance by four-time Grammy nominated singer, and Tony-winning actress Melba Moore, famous for her 28 albums, including popular turns in the original cast recordings for Broadway’s Hair and Purlie.

Moore’s performance will conclude a wonderful weekend of events and activities from the Westhampton Beach Project, conceptualized by local resident, artist and president of the Musical Mime Theater, Steven Colucci, who worked closely with the great mime Marcel Marceau. Colucci has enjoyed nearly 50 years in the arts, and makes it his mission to expose younger generations to the art forms he’s spent a lifetime studying.

“Knowledge of arts brings the ultimate freedom,” Colucci says of the weekend and his artistic endeavors, adding, “We are pleased to share this evening of freedom.”

Melba Moore comes to Westhampton Beach at a particularly momentous time in her already enviable career — she was recently announced to be among the 2023 honorees receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and on August 26 she will accept two presidential honors, the Joseph R. Biden Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her work on improving urban communities.

If that wasn’t enough, Moore also released her latest album of soulful songs, Imagine, in the spring. “It’s like Fourth of July for me,” she says, conjuring an image of fireworks bursting overhead in honor of her 55-year career in song and stage, starting with the musical Hair in 1967 and continuing with multiple Broadway hits such as Les Misérables, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Chicago, and Purlie, among others, as well as her music, film roles and even her own eponymous TV sitcom, Melba, that ran for six episodes in 1986.

While Moore has visited the Hamptons “many, many times” during her life, she says it’s been a number of years since her last stay, so she was excited to get Colucci’s invitation asking her to return. “I’m very happy that he contacted us,” she says.

For her performance, starting at 8:20 p.m. on the Great Lawn Saturday, Moore was quite clear that she will be singing very little, if anything, from the new album. “Absolutely not, because it’s too new for the audience, so I have to do what I hope they will enjoy hearing, and that’s primarily my older songs like ‘This Is It,’ ‘Love Will Come Natural’ and songs from my Broadway shows like ‘Aquarius (Let the Sunshine In)’ and the songs from Purlie, which of course gave me the Tony award with songs like ‘I Got Love’ and the title song ‘Purlie,’” she explains, “and I hope there will be some older citizens there, not just young people, who will enjoy me giving honors to somebody like Lena Horne and her signature songs, ‘Stormy Weather’ and some American Songbook songs, like ‘I Concentrate on You.’”

Moore says fans can also expect to hear some of her dance hits as part of the “diverse combination of songs from my body of work” during her show, which will be specially tailored for the Westhampton Beach crowd on Saturday. “We each have our own little corners of culture, and I’ve been blessed to go through a variety of communities in terms of my music,” she continues, pointing out that the Westhampton Beach audience should enjoy songs honoring Cole Porter and Ella Fitzgerald, along with her Broadway tunes. “I don’t always do the stuff from Hair and Purlie, but I think it would be appropriate this time.”

Melba Moore "Imagine" album cover
Melba Moore “Imagine” albumCourtesy WHB Project

Despite it not being part of her show this weekend, Imagine is a testament to Moore’s power as a performer who consistently delivers relevant and emotionally rich music after all these years in the business. “It’s a theme of joy and peace and romance, and it seems airy and really beautiful,” she says of the record. “The songwriters and producers are excellent, so the music is beautiful,” Moore adds, noting that her daughter Charli Huggins and Charli’s uncle (Moore’s ex-husband’s brother) Bowe Huggins were executive producers of Imagine. “It’s been such a project of love, and it’s a family project because, though I’m not married to her father anymore, I’m friends with everybody,” she says. “It’s really quite amazing and wonderful.”

For Moore, this all comes together as a particularly magical time in what was already an incredibly blessed life, and Westhampton Beach is lucky to be a part of it.

NYC singer-songwriter Eva Sita will open for Moore at 8 p.m. on Saturday. On Friday, the Westhampton Beach Project will present performances by The Parsons Dance Company. A mini food festival featuring bites from 25 local restaurants and cocktails from 12 area bars will be available both nights.

The event is free, but guests interested in making a charitable donation of $60 and up will receive a VIP seat on the Great Lawn, and specialty appetizers and cocktails for the event. All proceeds will go towards The Musical Mime Company.

Visit whbproject.com for more info, including all participating restaurants and bars, sponsors and more.

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