Singer/Actress B.J. Crosby Dies at 63 | Playbill

News Singer/Actress B.J. Crosby Dies at 63 B.J. Crosby, the actress/singer who first came to prominence and earned a Tony nomination as part of the original ensemble of the long-running Broadway revue Smokey Joe's Cafe, reportedly has died at age 63. Her death was tweeted by friend Harvey Fierstein March 27, but could not immediately be confirmed.
B.J. Crosby
B.J. Crosby

Crosby played Effie in a national tour of Dreamgirls, and returned twice to Broadway, replacing as Mama Morton in Chicago in 1996 and playing the role of Ma Reed in the Broadway debut of One Mo' Time in 2002.

She earned her Tony nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Smokey Joe's Cafe. She can be heard on the original cast album soloing on "Hound Dog" and "Fools Fall in Love."

Crosby had wide TV experience, appearing on "Law & Order," "Mad About You," "The Cosby Show," "Family Matters" and many other shows.

Crosby was born in New Orleans, and got her early singing experience in church choirs there.

Among her recordings are "The New Orleans Music" with pianist Ellis Marsalis, and a solo album, "Best of Your Heart."

She moved back to New Orleans in 2007 and suffered a stroke after falling ill during a concert therein 2008. She was one of only two members of the original cast of Smokey Joe's who did not attend a reunion at 54 Below in February 2014.

Fierstein tweeted, "BJ Crosby, a powerhouse of a talent & wonderful friend is gone. I treasure our time on HAIRSPRAY."

Here is a clip of Crosby singing "Hound Dog" in Smokey Joe's. Her solo starts at the 2:07 mark.

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