MASI ASARE is a composer, lyricist, playwright, and assistant professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at Northwestern University. Her shows include: THE FAMILY RESEMBLANCE (book/music/lyrics; Theatre Royal Stratford East commission, Eugene O’Neill Center NMTC); RISHVOR, a new musical about racial passing (book/music/lyrics) commissioned by Barbara Whitman/Grove Entertainment; MONSOON WEDDING (lyrics), the London bound adaptation of Mira Nair’s film; MIRROR OF MOST VALUE (Samuel French), a one-act play for Marvel about super hero Kamala Khan; a new musical commissioned by Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre and the Toulmin Foundation; and the secret agent musical SYMPATHY JONES (music/lyrics/concept; NYMF; Playscripts). A past Dramatists Guild Fellow, Masi has received the Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award for a woman composer of musicals, mentored by Jeanine Tesori; both the Holof Lyricist Award and the Haupt Composition Prize from the O’Neill Center; an Emerging Artist Grant from the Theater Hall of Fame, nominated by Daryl Roth; and the Stacey Mindich “Go Write A Musical” Lilly Award. Her songs have been heard at venues across NYC from Playwrights Horizons to Lincoln Center and can be heard on the streaming site Broadway on Demand. A voice instructor and coach with over two decades of teaching experience, Masi specializes in popular vocal styles. Her voice students have performed in regional and touring shows, and on Broadway.
Masi’s scholarly book project, Voicing the Possible: Technique, Vocal Sound, and Black Women on the Musical Stage, examines the impact of blues singers on Broadway belting and makes the case for the need to feel the racial history in contemporary practices of musical theatre performance. At Northwestern, she holds appointments in the Theatre and Performance Studies Departments, affiliations with the Sound Arts and Industries Program and the Black Arts Initiative, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama. She teaches courses in musical theatre history, vocal performance studies, and musical theatre writing. Masi has presented her work at conferences including BroadwayCon; Song, Stage, and Screen; the American Society of Theatre Research; the Association for Theatre in Higher Education; the Educational Theatre Association; and EMP PopCon. Her writing appears in The Dramatist, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Performance Matters, TDR (forthcoming), and Studies in Musical Theatre (forthcoming). She also hosts and produces the pandemic-era podcast Voicing Across Distance, bringing together scholars and practitioners to listen for voices and vocal sound in our historical moment, across social distance. Masi holds a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Harvard and a PhD in performance studies from New York University. She is a member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild, and serves on the membership committee of ASTR and the advisory board of MAESTRA. She divides her time between Chicago and New York City.