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Zenobia powell perry's

tawawa house: 

an underground

railroad story(2017)

documentary film produced by Elbar Media in association

with Jaygayle Music Productions, (2017) 50 minutes

tawawa house dvd cover front.jpg

Directed and edited by Elliott Barker and written and produced by Jeannie Gayle Pool, this documentary tells the story of a fascinating African-American opera, written in 1985 and restored and revived in 2014. Two historic performances at the Gallo Center for the Performing Arts in Modesto, CA. attracted enthusiastic audiences and reviews.


This bold and controversial opera tells the compelling and truly American story of a central Ohio resort hotel that served as a vacation spot for white slave owners and their black mistresses and children before the Civil War. Tawawa House became a stop on the Underground Railroad and eventually the first African American owned and managed university, Wilberforce University.

African American music advocate, singer Darryl Taylor is the narrator. The documentary describes the story of Dr. Jeannie Gayle Pool's monumental work to restore this opera, through interviews with the African­ American opera singers, actors, production crew and Zenobia Perry's daughter, Janis-Rozena Peri, all who put their hearts and souls in the new production, imbuing it with new life. The documentary includes video clips from the performances and rare archival materials related to the opera's story.

Zenobia Powell Perry (1908-2004) was born in Boley, Oklahoma, and studied composition with Nathaniel Dett, William Dawson (at Tuskegee) and French composer Darius Milhaud. She taught for 30 years at Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio, and composed more than 100 works for a variety of genres, including orchestra and symphonic band.  

available on Youtube


​For screening opportunities, contact Jeannie Gayle Pool

at  818-606-5743

or email:

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