On Monday, October 6th, students at Discovery High School were treated to a visit from a singer, pianist, actress and the wife of superstar, Denzell Washington–Mrs. Pauletta Pearson Washington. Mrs. Washington is a native of Newton and the daughter of the late Phairlever Pearson, once a Newton school principal and N-CCS Red Blazer Award winner. Pauletta graduated from Newton-Conover High School and married Denzel at the First Methodist Church in Newton.
Mrs. Washington was originally contacted by Discovery High School student, Anna Elliot, who was working on her Senior project on the subjects of music and personality. With the help of another local district supporter and Red Blazer winner, Beth Bock, this student was able to have Mrs. Washington answer her questions–in person! Mrs. Bock was able to arrange the visit with Mrs. Washington, and students gathered to speak to her, as well as listen to her share her wisdom and insight on personality, mood, genre, and the spirit of music.
Over the years, Pauletta Washington has worked with some of theater’s biggest names such as Jules Styne, Jerry Herman, Phyllis Newman, Betty Comden and Adolf Green, Carol Hall, Tommy Tune, and Leslie Gore to name a few. She was part of the original cast of “Jerry’s Girls,” and was later asked to join the touring cast. When the show went to Broadway, Pauletta was pregnant with her first child and had to turn down the Broadway opportunity, leaving the role to Leslie Uggams.
Pauletta’s stage credits also include roles in the second Broadway Production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Sophisticated Ladies,” “Shakespeare’s Cabaret”, “The All Nite Strut,” and understudy to Lynn Thigpen in “Tintypes.” She has created many roles at several of the major Off-Broadway houses, has appeared in Debbie Allen’s “Soul Possessed” at the Kennedy Center, co-starred with Bebe Winans in Otis Sallid’s “Spirituals,” and was featured with Natalie Cole in the recent production of “A Christmas Show” at Lincoln Center. Pauletta also shared the stage with Amy Grant, Michael McDonald, Sheila E and many others in the Production of “Something” at Carnegie Hall and in 2010 worked with the legendary Chaka Khan and the late, great Teena Marie in “Diva’s Simply Singing.”
Pauletta’s on-screen credits include “The Wilma Rudolf Story,” starring Cecily Tyson and Denzel Washington, and “Purlie” starring Melba Moore, Sherman Hemsley, and Robert Guillaume. Pauletta was a series regular on the TV sitcom “The Parkers,” starring Monique, and appeared in “Beloved,” starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. She was a featured vocalist on the soundtrack of “Philadelphia,” starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington and a featured pianist in the soundtrack of “The Antwone Fisher Story.” Pauletta has created and performed her “One Woman Show” for both domestic and international audiences. After a hiatus from the stage to raise her four children, Pauletta has reemerged to continue her acting career, most recently performing in the Off-Broadway production of Nora and Delia Ephron’s, “Love Loss and What I Wore.”
Special thanks to Anna Elliot (student), Jody Dixon (teacher). John Robinson (principal), and Beth Bock (community supporter) for lining up this amazing opportunity for the Discovery High School students.