Watch: A Memorial Service for Marva Denise Hicks Taha is Set at Good Shepherd Baptist Church

Source: Johnson Services

Marva Hicks and Akwasi Khalil Taha at the opening night of Oo-Bla-Dee at Two River Theater on June 14, 2019. Photo by Lia Chang
Marva Denise Hicks Taha

Marva Denise Hicks Taha, departed from this life on Friday, September 16, 2022, in her home in Manhattan, NY. Marva transitioned quietly, peacefully, and comfortably in her sleep with her doting and loving husband Akwasi Khalil Taha at her side.

A Memorial service will be held on Tuesday, September 27, 2022 at noon at the Good Shepherd Baptist Church, 2223 South Crater Road, Petersburg, Virginia. Click here for more information.

Updated: Watch below.

Marva was born May 5, 1956, to Catherine Hicks and Herbert Whitted in Petersburg, VA, both deceased.

All over the world, whenever Marva was asked about where she grew up, she would always answer with pride that she grew up in Petersburg Virginia. Marva grew up as a member of Good Shepherd Baptist Church where her grandfather Rev E.E. Hicks was pastor emeritus, and her Grandmother Lavesta Peterson Hicks was always nearby. There she was a member of the Peterson Hicks Memorial Choir.  Marva excelled in social activities and academics. She graduated from Petersburg High School in the Class of 1974.  It wasn’t until being encouraged by her Aunt Virgie in Atlantic City, NJ to participate in her annual youth talent showcase, and seeing the crowd’s overwhelming response, that she first realized her gift of singing.  And what a gift she had! After discovering her love for the theater, she attended Howard University’s College of Fine Arts where she earned her BFA, cum laude.

Marva Hicks in concert in 2010. Photo by Lia Chang
Marva Hicks in concert in 2010. Photo by Lia Chang

Marva was a dynamic singer and actress that was able to live her life sharing her gifts on screen and on the world’s largest stages with the world’s biggest talents. One of the most endearing characteristics of our beloved Marva is that no matter how far she had travelled around the world, no matter how famous her colleagues have been over the span of her career or accolades she acquired and there were many, when she came home to Petersburg, she was simply, “Peaches”, a name she was affectionately known as by her close family and friends. Being home in Virginia for family reunions, birthdays, and weddings was pure joy for her.

Along with her parents and grandparents, Marva was preceded in transition by her sister, Gladoria G. Johnson. She leaves to cherish her memory, husband, Akwasi Taha, sons; Rahshiene Taha (Erin), Yasin Bond (Chioneso) Grandchildren Seala, Savior, Morocco, Yamani, and Jalen. Devoted Mother-in-Law, Ashaki Taha and Sisters in Law, Halima Taha and Shanti Kleiman; Brothers, Leon Whitted (Deborah) Gregory Whitted Sr (Rosalind) Nephews Cedric Whitted and Gregory Whitted, Jr and one niece, Tynika Whitted; Her “Family of Cousins” and a host of devoted and loving friends, for whom her family will be forever thankful. Marva was truly blessed.

Lia Chang, Peter Jay Fernandez, Denise Burse and Marva Hicks at The Triad in 2011.

Marva Hicks was a seasoned and versatile performing artist. Marva’s Broadway debut was with the legendary American jazz and pop singer, actor, and civil rights activist Lena Horne in “Lena Horne:  The Lady and Her Music.” While touring with Ms. Horne she met Stevie Wonder. Two months later, he invited her to join his tour in Japan.   Her distinctive voice was warm and powerful and led to Polygram Records signing her to a record deal.  They relocated her to Los Angeles where she recorded her self-titled album.  The album was released in 1991.  Her hit single, “Never Been in Love Before” peeked at #7 on Billboards R&B Charts and spent 17 weeks on the charts overall.

Marva Hicks as T’Pel in “Persistence of Vision”, an episode of STAR TREK: VOYAGER. Image: Paramount.

During her time in Los Angeles, Marva was cast as a recurring character on the television shows “Star Trek: Voyager,” as T’Pel the Vulcan wife of Tuvok, “Mad About You” as Paul’s assistant Remy, “Sister-Sister” and “L.A. Law” just to name a few.

Marva Hicks as Jacara Principal on “One Life to Live”.

While still living in California she paused her acting career to tour with Michael Jackson on his HiStory Tour. When she landed the role of Jacara Principal on the ABC daytime soap opera “One Life to Live,” she came back to the east coast where she was close to her family and her love, the theatre.  It wasn’t long before Marva returned to Broadway in The Lion King as Rafiki, followed by Caroline, or Change, with the creative team of Tony Kushner, Jeanine Tesori and George Wolfe.

Ramona Keller, Marva Hicks, and Tracy Nicole Chapman in Caroline, or Change in 2004. Photo by Michal Daniel
(L-R) Capathia Jenkins, Ramona Keller, Tracy Nicole Chapman, Marva Hicks and (foreground) Tonya Pinkins in ‘Caroline, or Change’ in 2004. Photo by Craig Schwartz

Then she would be introduced to the record industry giant, Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records who instantly considered her part of the Motown family because of her work with Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.  She was cast and featured in the record-breaking Broadway hit Motown the Musical.  Off-Broadway she was directed by Emmy and Tony Award Winner, Ruben Santiago Hudson, in the First Breeze of Summer at Signature Theatre.  Marva was featured in the New York City Center Encores! production of Cabin in The Sky, and the Encores Off-Center production of Little Shop of Horrors starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ellen Greene.

Marva Hicks, Tracy Nicole Chapman, and Ramona Keller as the urchins, Jake Gyllenhaal as Seymour, and Anwar Kareem with the plant Audrey II in “Little Shop of Horrors” at New York City Center in 2015. Photo by Joan Marcus

She brilliantly embodied the heartwarming character Mrs. Potts in the MUNY’S production of Beauty and the Beast.

Kate Rockwell, Rob McClure, Marva Hicks, Steve Rosen in “Beauty and the Beast” at The Muny. Photo by Phillip Hamer

Marva appeared in the world premiere production of The Women of Brewster Place, in the role of Etta Mae at the Alliance Theatre for which she received Atlanta’s Suzi Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical and a Helen Hayes Award nomination in the Arena Stage production in Washington DC.

Marva was a favorite at Arena Stage and appeared in Crowns, Charles Randolph Wright’s Cuttin’ Up, Sophisticated Ladies, starring the incomparable Broadway veteran Maurice Hines and the blues musical, Thunder Knocking on the Door, which earned Marva a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress.

Marva Hicks and Peter Jay Fernandez in the 1998 Arena Stage production of <em>Thunder Knocking on the Door</em>. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Marva Hicks and Peter Jay Fernandez in the 1998 Arena Stage production of Thunder Knocking on the Door. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Marva Hicks in “Crowns” at Arena Stage in 2009. Photo by Scott Suchman
Marva Hicks, Karla Mosley, Maurice Hines, Janine DiVita, Wynonna Smith in Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies at Arena Stage in 2010. © Scott Suchman
(l-r) Wynnona Smith, Janine DiVita, Maurice Hines, Marva Hicks and Karla Mosley in the Arena Stage production of Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies in 2010. Photo by Scott Suchman
Marva Hicks in Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies at Arena Stage in 2010. Photo by Scott Suchman
David Jennings and Marva Hicks – Porgy and Bess – ZACH
https://derekdesigns.carbonmade.com/projects/3039068

In a fresh and creative jazz and blues adaptation of “Porgy and Bess” in Austin TX, Marva played the role of Bess and received the B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in Musical Theatre.

For four years, Marva performed with Symphony Orchestras throughout the US and Canada with trumpet virtuoso Byron Stripling in a tribute concert to jazz icons Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

Marva Hicks in concert at The Sheen Center on January 23, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang
Marva Hicks in concert at The Sheen Center on January 23, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang
Marva Hicks in concert at The Sheen Center on January 23, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

On film Marva worked in Director Charles Randolph Wright’s Preaching to the Choir, Labor Day, starring Josh Brolin and Tobey Maguire, Asunder, starring Blair Underwood and Virtuosity, starring Denzel Washington.  She can also be seen on the Emmy nominated Netflix dramatic series, “House of Cards,” Marvel’s “Daredevil,” TBS’ “Search Party,” “Blacklist” and “Madame Secretary”.

In 2016, Marva appeared in The York Theatre Company’sthe staged concert version of Micki Grant’s seminal musical, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, for which she wrote the book, music, and lyrics.

The “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” Company with (back row) James Morgan (York Producing Artistic director), Devin L. Roberts, Raun Ruffin, Doug Eskew, William Foster McDaniel (music director) and Jelani Alladin; (seated center) Marva Hicks, Micki Grant, Tina Fabrique, Julia Lema (director’s assistant), Leslie Dockery (director); (front row) Debra Walton and Darilyn Castillo on February 22, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang
Marva Hicks and Micki Grant at The York Theatre’s rehearsal of “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” on February 22, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

In 2019, Marva appeared in Two River Theater’s production of Oo-Bla-Dee, written by Golden Globe Award winner Regina Taylor, featuring original songs by Taylor and Diedre L. Murray, with direction by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

Stacey Sargeant, Marva Hicks, Allison Semmes, Stanley Wayne Mathis, and Monica J. Palmer in Oo-Bla-Dee at Two River Theater in 2019. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
The curtain call for Oo-Bla-Dee at Two River Theater on June 14, 2019. Photo by Lia Chang
The curtain call for Oo-Bla-Dee at Two River Theater on June 14, 2019. Photo by Lia Chang
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Marva Hicks and Akwasi Khalil Taha. Photo by Lia Chang

In 2020, she appeared in GUN & POWDER at Signature Theatre in 2020.

Emmy Raver-Lampman (Martha), Marva Hicks (Tallulah) and Solea Pfeiffer (Mary) in GUN & POWDER at Signature Theatre in 2020. Photo by Cameron Whitman.

In 2022, she was featured in Pearl Cleage’s Angry, Raucous and Shamelessly Gorgeous at Hartford Stage in CT.

2022-Marva Hicks as Betty Sampson in the Hartford Stage production of Pearl Cleage’s Angry, Raucous & Shamelessly Gorgeous. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Marva lent her voice and talents to many nonprofit organizations including the Ronald McDonald House, Covenant House and MSK’s Visible Ink. Marva was a 20 year member of The Broadway Inspirational Voices Choir and is a featured vocalist on both of their Christmas CDs, Great Joy, and Great Joy II.

In concert with Broadway Inspirational Voices in New York on June 20, 2011. Photo by Lia Chang

In memory of Marva, contributions may be made to the following charities:

Broadway Inspirational Voices

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the professional staff- Petersburg Chapel- Joseph M. Johnson & Son Funeral Home, 530 S. Sycamore St., Petersburg, VA 23803 (804) 863-4411.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer, activist and an Award winning filmmaker and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Lia is also the host and Executive Producer of BACKSTAGE PASS WITH LIA CHANG, a new Arts and Entertainment program that airs on Sundays at 6:30pm on FIOS 34, RCN 83, and Spectrum 56/1996.

Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. Her short film, When the World Was Young recently garnered a 2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2022 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang, unless otherwise indicated. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at backstagepasswithliachang@gmail.com

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