Masi Asare is a composer/lyricist, playwright, singer, voice coach, and performance scholar who divides her time between New York City and Chicago. She holds a PhD in performance studies from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, and is Assistant Professor in the Theatre and Performance Studies departments at Northwestern University. She teaches courses in music theatre history, music theatre writing, and vocal sound studies, and holds affiliations to the Sound Arts & Industries program and the Black Arts Initiative at Northwestern.
Masi's songs have been heard at venues across NYC from Playwrights Horizons to Lincoln Center. In 2019, she received the Stacey Mindich "Go Write A Musical"Award from The Lilly Awards, and an Emerging Artist Grant from the Theater Hall of Fame, nominated by Daryl Roth. She was also awarded the first-ever Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award for a woman composer of musical theatre. Masi has also been a Jonathan Larson Grant finalist and a York Theatre Company NEO Artist. She is an alum of musical theatre workshops at ASCAP, BMI, and New Dramatists, and a past Dramatists Guild Musical Theatre Fellow.
Projects include book, music, and lyrics for The Family Resemblance, a semi-autobiographical show about the legacy of an African grandmother for a mixed race family, commissioned by the Theatre Royal Stratford East and developed at The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Music Theatre Conference (where Masi was awarded both the Haupt Composition Prize and the Holof Lyricist Award) and Live and In Color; lyrics for the Broadway bound new musical adaptation of director Mira Nair's film Monsoon Wedding; and book, music, and lyrics for Rishvor, an original musical about a story of racial passing, commissioned by Barbara Whitman Productions and Grove Entertainment. Masi's play about Marvel super hero Kamala Khan a.k.a. Ms. Marvel, entitled Mirror of Most Value is published and licensed by Samuel French. And her secret agent musical Sympathy Jones (book by Brooke Pierce) premiered at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and has had more than 40 productions to date in the US and internationally. Sympathy has a well-received studio cast album and is published by Playscripts.
A voice instructor and coach with two decades of teaching experience, Masi specializes in popular vocal styles. Her voice students have performed on Broadway, in regional and touring shows, and in high school musical productions. As a singer, Masi has performed in New York in venues including Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, 54 Below, Miller Theatre, and Dixon Place, as a soloist with new music group Alarm Will Sound performing selections from the songplay I Was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw The Sky, and on the world/electronica album Come 'N Play from House of Bamba. Favorite roles from her singer-actor days include Sarah's Friend in Ragtime, Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors, Dionne in Hair, and Ariel in The Tempest. She is presently training in the Estill voice method.
Masi was a founding producer for the 8Minute Musicals Project, a music consultant for the RIPFEST Collaborative Film Project's movie musicals initiative, and associate artistic director for Raw Impressions Music Theatre. She was a founding member of the Brooklyn-based collective Anonymous Ensemble, where she wrote music and lyrics for several shows including the rock theatre project The Best. As a grant writer and development professional, she has raised funds for the Lark Play Development Center and held senior positions at Columbia University School of the Arts and Columbia Business School.
She received a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Harvard University and an MA and PhD from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in Performance Studies. Masi's academic research, for which she was awarded the Franco Coli Dissertation Award at NYU, focuses on voice, race, and embodiment in musical theatre performance. In 2018, she was also recognized with an Honorable Mention (2nd place) in the university-wide competition for Outstanding Dissertation Prize, humanities category, at New York University for her dissertation Voicing the Possible: Technique, Vocal Sound, and Black Women on the Musical Stage. As a composer/lyricist, Masi has studied with Jeanine Tesori, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, and Stephen Schwartz. She is a member of ASCAP, the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), MAESTRA: New York Women Composers of Musical Theatre, and the Dramatists Guild.