Bill Harris

Harris laid much of the foundation for his 40-year literary career in Detroit, where he attended Cass Tech High School and Highland Park Community College before earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Wayne State University in the 1970s.

The magnetism of New York City’s fast-paced literary and music scene in the mid-1980s lured him for a time to Manhattan where he pursued his passions as an aspiring poet, playwright, and novelist. Harris found a fertile ground for his playwriting at the New Federal Theatre, a neighborhood-based professional production company founded by Woodie King Jr. to showcase theatrical works written, performed, and directed by minority artists.

He also quenched his lifelong thirst for jazz and blues by becoming production coordinator for Jazzmobile Inc., a jazz production and music education organization that has featured performances by John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Cecil Taylor, and other jazz greats in years past.

Two of Harris’s plays – Stories About the Old Days, starring jazz singer Abbey Lincoln, and Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone, with Denzel Washington and S. Epatha Merkerson – premiered at the New Federal Theatre. Two others – Queen of Sheba and Boo! A Musical Fantasy – had their debuts at the St. Louis Black Repertory Company. – excerpt from profile in Detroit Artists Workshop

NFT Credits

Credit Type Production Season
PlaywrightTrio 1982-83 Season
PlaywrightRobert Johnson: Trick the Devil 1992-93 Season
PlaywrightCool Blues 2010-11 Season
PlaywrightStories About the Old Days 2020-21 Season