One-woman play traces creator's sense of isolation, loss

Jazz singer Debra James Tucker was in a difficult position. She was the only member of her staunchly religious family who knew her brother was gay — and, later, the only one who knew he'd tested HIV positive.

“We just didn't speak about it [in our family],” Tucker said. “I was the only person in the family who he came out to and the only one who knew he was HIV positive.”

At the suggestion of a friend, and as a way to process her lingering grief over the death of her brother, who passed away from AIDS 25 years ago, Tucker developed “Survival of the Boulevard Singer.” The one-woman show is her story, with monologue, dialogue (in which Tucker plays all the roles) and traditional black church music performed a cappella.

While the show features fictionalized moments “for effect,” Tucker said, the story is true-to-life. In “Survival,” Tucker breaks her own silence and that of her brother in one stirring stroke.

Tucker will present “Survival” three times this month: June 3 at Kafe Kerouac, June 9 at Lincoln Cafe and June 30 at New Harvest Cafe & Urban Arts Center.