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How Felicia Loud found herself on Seattle stages

Felicia Loud poses for a portrait on Monday, March 12, 2018, at Artspace Hiawatha Lofts in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
Felicia Loud poses for a portrait on Monday, March 12, 2018, at Artspace Hiawatha Lofts in Seattle.

Felicia Loud barely remembers a time when she wasn’t performing. She’s been a regular on Seattle stages for more than 40 years, singing with local bands and acting with most of the major theater companies.

She moved to Seattle with her single mother when she was four, thousands of miles from their Louisiana family. It was just the two of them, and little Felicia craved attention. She got it by imitating the greats: Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Tina Turner.

“Those sounds hit a core in me,” Loud says. “They made me feel like nothing else before. Because it was just me and my mother, I didn’t have any other connection to things that made me feel good. I wanted that, consistently.”

By her early teens, Loud was involved with a summer youth theater program at the Langston Hughes Cultural Center. She loved acting and singing, but she never contemplated an arts career. Loud needed a sustainable income, not the financial uncertainty of an artist’s life.

Loud worked day jobs, but when they ended, you’d find her onstage.

“Going about my regular day, I didn’t have the kind of joy those three hours would give me,” she says.

Loud wasn’t singing Bessie Smith or Tina Turner’s songs anymore; she had discovered her own voice.

Since 2009, she and her partner Jace ECAj have led Black Stax, focused on music and social activism.

“I was the mimic for so long,” she says. “It made me want an audience to pay attention to what I was saying. I have something to say, and I want you to listen.”

Loud explores her childhood through music and storytelling in a new one-woman show called “Simply Me” at Langston Hughes March 23-24. Black Stax plays an album release show at Langston Hughes April  7th.

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