"Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-ho!"

Brazos Valley TROUPE's M.A. Sterling may be better known for his powerful ballads, but if there is one song that truly reveals his character, it's Cab Calloway's Minnie the Moocher.

That song, and others made famous by Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, Marvin Gaye and black artists over the past half-century will be performed during "Ebony Overtures," the annual tribute to Black History Month.

"I have not done Minnie in a very long time," Sterling said. "I love Cab Calloway's rendition of the song. It's great for me because I do love to engage an audience, and that song certainly does do that and then some."

Georgia, Ol' Man River and Motown favorites will also be on the program.

"It is very personal for me as an African-American to salute those who have paved the way for me and my comtemporaries," Sterling said.

"The legacy of the music is so rich that I could never, ever pay full homage to it."

Kelly Kennedy, who made a smashing debut in TROUPE's "Lady Love," will be joining Sterling on stage with renditions of Aretha Franklin's Natural Woman and the Etta James classic At Last."

The second half of the show will have a lot of Motown music with choreography provided by young cast members Brianna Buth, Taylor Kennedy, Tabitha Lamphear, Ray Paul Marshall, Sarah McKneely, Justin Olexey, Mollie Rush and Andrew Williams.

"It's great to be able to share this music with another generation," Sterling said. "I feel as though I am passing on something to these young people that they will be able to share with their kids."

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at 3705 E. 29th St. in Bryan's Town & Country Center.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for senior citizens, $6 for TROUPE members and $5 for students and children. All Thursday tickets are $5. Proceeds go to the Portia Ann Ford Scholarship Fund, named in honor of Sterling's mother. For reservations, call 846-4903 or e-mail bvttix@yahoo.com.

• Jim Butler's e-mail address is jim.butler@theeagle.com.

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