Memories That Last a Lifetime
Jul 06, 2023
Culture Queen Makes Her Triumphant Return to Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods to Create Magical Memories, This Time as a Performer
Family music artist Jessica “Culture Queen” Hebron is no stranger to Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. From attending her annual summer “family field trips” as a child to see Filene Center performers like Diana Ross and Ziggy Marley to bringing groups to Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods as an arts camp director, Culture Queen is a testament to the multi-generational magic of Wolf Trap. Now, as an award-winning performer and master teaching artist, Culture Queen is taking the stage to help families create life-long memories with song and dance. Her best advice? “Delayed is not denied.”
In this interview, Culture Queen shares the key experiences that shaped her passion for family music and entertainment and hints at what’s to come for audience members at her Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods performance on Thursday, July 13. To purchase tickets, visit wolftrap.org/calendar.
Wolf Trap (WT): Tell us about your musical journey and how you became Culture Queen.
Culture Queen (CQ): Ever since I watched “Barney and Friends,” I knew I wanted to be a children’s entertainer. I remember secretly calling the number to schedule an audition when they were searching for new cast members. My parents also took me to see lots of children’s programs locally and nationwide, and I grew up listening to artists like Raffi, Ella Jenkins, and Baba Jamaal Koram. Later on, my first job in high school was touring in a children’s theatre company that visited summer camps. After that, I joined Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre program, for which we traveled to more than 500 elementary schools a year, performing health education-themed musicals and workshops. I knew I wanted my future career to create the same magic for children that I got to experience, so it’s an honor every time I get to do so now as Culture Queen.
WT: Do you have any special memories from Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods that you’d like to share?
CQ: I’m so excited! It’s been a dream of mine for 13 years to perform at Children’s Theatre-In-The-Woods. I grew up attending Children’s Theatre-In-The-Woods and I brought children there every summer as an arts camp director so they, too, could feel inspired. You can imagine how much of a full-circle feeling it is to go from being an audience member to a headliner almost two decades later. My testimony to you today is that delayed is not denied. Sometimes, later is greater. So, keep on creating, and never quit your daydream!
WT: What made you want to return to Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods?
CQ: As a child, my family’s visits to Children’s Theatre-in-the Woods and the Filene Center were always something to look forward to. Each summer, my family would take a field trip to see artists such as Diana Ross, Ziggy Marley, Trombone Shorty, Diana Krall, BabyFace, and many more. It was a true joy! The Turner-Howlette family would roll deep, driving from Richmond, Virginia and Washington, DC, and the whole row would be filled with our family. My uncle Sandy and Aunt Mary Francis also live close by Wolf Trap, which adds a layer of sentimentality to the venue. Even though my Great Aunt Eva, Aunt Cal, and business coach for over 20 years, Ms. Pat, are no longer with us, I know they will be with me dancing in spirit and cheering, “You go, girl!” Of course, I also can’t wait to see all of my Culture Kingdom Kids and meet the many new faces who will be at my show. To me, there’s no greater honor than being a positive memory in someone’s childhood experience.
WT: What does it mean to you to perform at a venue that you once attended as an audience member?
CQ: I’m so excited! It’s been a dream of mine for 13 years to perform at Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods. Now, having the opportunity to perform in a place that has brought so much inspiration to my family and me is truly special. I grew up attending Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, and it was always a magical experience for me. When I directed a summer arts camp, we also took children there every summer so that they, too, could be inspired. You can imagine how much of a full-circle feeling it is to go from being an audience member to a headliner almost two decades later. My testimony to you today is that, “delayed is not denied.” Sometimes, later is greater. So, keep on creating, and never quit your daydream!
WT: What do you hope your audiences take away from your performances, and why are those messages important?
CQ: I chose the “Culture Queen’s Dance Party” theme for this show and album because dancing is my absolute favorite thing to do. After all, it brings unity, joy, and freedom of expression. I have a dream that the princes and princesses in the audience will have so much fun that they forget about anything that may be worrying them. I pray that the kings and queens who brought the children will tune out life’s distractions and tune into the present moment while they dance under the sun. Finally, I hope that the memories we create together at Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods will last a lifetime and remind them to use their royal power of imagination to create dances while celebrating the dances of others.
To learn more about Culture Queen, visit culturekingdomkids.com.