Atlanta’s own Takia Hopson had a full-circle moment with the legendary singer’s songs
Considered one of the most successful rockers of all time, Tina Turner’s catalogue of hits includes well-known tunes such as “Private Dancer,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and the Grammy-winning, “Proud Mary.”
In all, Turner amassed 25 Grammy noms, winning eight, and also collected a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award as well.
But things weren’t always easy for the celebrated singer. Turner’s life story is also marked by an unstable family life, domestic abuse by her husband, Ike Turner, and many societal injustices women of color continue to face today. Her inspiring story was turned into the Broadway hit, Tina—The Tina Turner Musical, and now the touring production of the show is visiting Atlanta Feb. 21-26.
Atlanta’s own Takia Hopson, known as “Tiki” to her friends, is making her national tour debut as part of the jukebox musical, playing the role of Ikette No. 3. “I do a lot of work as far as storytelling with the rise of Ike and Tina Turner,” she said. “I’m one of the three Ikettes who goes on the road with them, singing and dancing right behind Tina.”
Hopson noted the show contains all the big songs fans would expect, but also delves deep into Turner’s abusive relationship with Ike, as well as her fights with racism, sexism and ageism, eventually achieving one of the best musical comebacks in history.
When she was just 2 years old, Hopson took her first dance class, and trained for most of her life at Dancemakers of Atlanta. That studio utilized a lot of Tina Turner’s music, so she was well versed in the singer’s songbook.
“I started doing competition dance when I was 5, and the very first one I ever did was set to a Tina Turner song, ‘Fool in Love,’” Hopson said. “The very first song we did when I went to New York for rehearsal for this show was also ‘Fool in Love.’ So, booking this job at 25 was a full-circle moment for me.”
It also was something she didn’t quite expect. After high school, Hopson trained at Southern Methodist University, graduating with degrees in dance and journalism in 2019. She spent the next few years around her hometown, teaching, choreographing for professional companies, dancing and acting for music videos, and working in marketing for The Black Artist Dance Collective of Atlanta.
When a friend sent her the submission materials for the tour, on a whim, she gave it a shot, and several auditions later, she was offered the role of an Ikette. “This is my first time doing anything like this; I’ve never done a theatre show prior to this, I’ve never even sang on stage before,” Hopson said. “When the show opens in Atlanta, it will be the first time my friends and family have ever heard me sing, because I was always just a dancer.”
She vividly recalls the first time she went to the Fox Theatre as a 7-year-old to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Company —a moment that made her want to become a professional dancer. “I’m ecstatic to be back and performing here with the chance for my students to see their teacher on stage and hopefully be inspired to do the same thing,” Hopson said. “It just goes to show if you work super hard for something, you can do anything.”
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd with a book by Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar, and Kees Prins, the musical holds no punches when examining the trials and tribulations of Turner’s life and rise to stardom.
And while Hopson knew a lot about the singer’s music and parts of her story from the Angela Bassett-starring Turner biopic, What’s Love Got to Do With It, that film only covers up to the split between Tina and Ike, so there’s a lot more the musical reveals.
“I’m now much more aware of what happened when she left Ike, and this show has really opened my eyes to the fullness and entirety of her story,” Hopson said. “It becomes really beautiful. I learned more about her Buddhist faith, how she got married again and moved to Switzerland and even learned some new songs. It’s provided a deeper look into her life for sure.”
Naomi Rodgers and Zurin Villanueva share the role of Tina on tour, and regardless of who’s stepping into the iconic singer’s shoes (or golden heels as Turner was known to wear), the audience is going to see something special.
“People just love this woman, and we’ve had shows where people come in Tina wigs or are dressed head to toe in her outfits, and I think people love to see someone embody Tina Turner on stage,” Hopson said. “This is a chance for audiences to see a living icon on the stage in the form of a musical and people love jamming along with the songs. Whether it’s Naomi or Zurin, they really give people a show to remember.”