Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith

In anticipation of the upcoming HBO film Bessie, which chronicles the life of legendary blues singer Bessie Smith, HBO recently kicked off the “Bessie’s 81 Theatre Tour”

Following the launch in NYC last month, the invite-only event series will travel to Los Angeles for a music showcase that offers performances from hand-picked local artists, as well as other private influencer events that will include a performance by an A-list act.

Honoring Smith’s legacy, the event series will not only build awareness around the upcoming film, but will highlight local music acts in each city and also offer students and aspiring musicians the chance to hone their skills, with top songwriter Stacy Barthe and producer Bryan Michael Cox.

“When thinking about how we wanted to build buzz about the film, we wanted to do something that was completely unique and immersive,” said Lucinda Martinez, SVP of Multicultural Marketing. “We’re confident that this event series properly honors the legacy of Bessie Smith by showcasing aspiring songwriters and producers. We want to raise awareness for the film, create connections and offer these young creatives a platform to share their craft. And hopefully inspire, through Bessie, the next great artist.”

Bessie stars Oscar nominee Queen Latifah as the lead, alongside Michael Kenneth Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tory Kittles, Tika Sumpter, Charles S. Dutton, and Mo’Nique and more, among others.

Born in Chattanooga, TN in 1894, Smith first rose to fame with the hit song “Downhearted Blues.” From there, she would eventually became one of the highest paid African-American performers of the 1920s. During her career, Smith held residence at Atlanta’s 81 Theatre, where she performed on numerous occasions.

HBO’s Bessie focuses on her transformation from a struggling young singer into “The Empress of the Blues,” and an enduring icon today.

Bessie premieres on HBO on May 16th at 8 p.m. For more info, visit BessieTheMovie.com. And, follow the conversation online with the official hashtag #Bessie81Tour.