Depending on whom you ask, Robin Doby Easter is either one of the area’s most talented and acclaimed actresses or one of its most dynamic and powerful vocalists. Fortunately, hers is not a “never the twain shall meet” situation, for in truth she does both with equal aplomb and perfection.
“Seems I’m rehearsing for something all the time,” she says with a hearty laugh, “either with a band or for a musical or for a play. I’m definitely staying busy.”
Busy is an understatement. For starters, in May alone Easter performed twice at the Levitt AMP Greensboro Music Series at Barber Park — with a different ensemble each time. She is one of the Gate City Divas, a group composed of eight of Greensboro’s top-flight female vocalists, who just released an album, Goin’ to Town, and two weeks later, at the behest of pianist extraordinaire Dave Fox, sang with the Healing Blues Project. And while gearing up for those two shows, she was also rehearsing for a June 3 play at The Barn Dinner Theatre titled Miss Mary and the Boys . . . before performing at City Market, Summertime Brews festival and with the Divas at the Greensboro Summer Solstice. And oh, yes, Easter just started a day job as a tour guide at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. And to top it all off, she is the proud mother of four boys, who’ve blessed her with eleven grandchildren.
Amidst all that, Easter’s primary gig is fronting her own band, Doby, a five-piece funk/soul/rock outfit that has been electrifying local and regional crowds since 2010. Prior to that, she was a member of the Stovepipes, a blues ensemble fronted by well-known guitarist David Bolton.
A Lynchburg, Virginia native who migrated to Greensboro to attend Bennett College, Easter’s initial pursuit was musical theater. Her credits include Dreamgirls, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Raisin and The Color Purple. She then decided to try her hand at nonmusical drama, joining the Touring Theatre of North Carolina, under the tutelage of Brenda Schleunes.
“She believed in me enough to cast me as a Nazi in one play,” Easter discloses. “Now, that was a stretch.”
The highlight of the singer/actress’s career thus far was touring with the world premiere cast of Maya Angelou’s And Still I Rise.
“It was the best experience ever, and I got to know Maya quite well,” she says. “She treated all of us like family. One day she invited me into her study where she was writing a poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she read at President Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.”
This month, look for Easter and Doby on the road to Floyd Fest in Virginia on July 29 and 30, and will be back in the Triad at Winston-Salem’s Bull Tavern August 4 and on the stage at a MUSEP concert on August 14 at Bur-Mil Park.
Of her career path, Easter obviously has no regrets: “I did it for love and then started getting paid. God has given me some diamonds.” OH
— Ogi Overman