Tens Across the Boards: A love letter to Tina, Etta, and Nina

Tens Across the Boards is an homage to the women who continually inspire the artist formerly known as Dionne Slay. Throughout the decades these women have served as pivotal influences on the music world and the world at large. Dionne will guide you through this musical celebration with love, light and hope for the future. We were so excited to chat with Dionne Slay about the upcoming event. 

What was your inspiration for the event?

Tens across the Board is a musical love letter celebrating a few coveted matriarchs of popular music. The music of Tina Turner, Etta James, and Nina Simone(TEN being an acronym for Tina, Etta, and Nina), defied their decades, and every decade that followed. Despite the trials and tribulations these women faced in their personal life whether that be domestic violence, discrimination, or drug addiction their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent soothed our souls and broke the charts. This show is a tribute to the women who broke down the barriers, and opened doors for artist like Solange, Janelle Monae, and Sza to thrive in popular music today.

What about drag is important in a modern art scene?

Drag is a very important queer art platform, because it innately challenges people's perception of gender and identity. When the average person encounters someone in drag it triggers an emotional response, and isn't that what all art is all about? Drag Queen's throughout the years have restored happiness, and pride into our queer communities, and encourage us to celebrate our differences. Drag as an art form is political by nature, and our country would be much so snatched if our President was a Drag Queen.

What brought you to the drag scene?

I have been performing for as long as I can remember, and have always been intrigued with genderless expression and androgyny.  I was cast as Jacob in the Musical La Cage Aux Folles during my final year of undergrad. The character desperately wanted to be drag queen, but was ironically the butler. Jacob would try convince the other characters, and himself that he was a drag sensation. I wouldn't call myself a method actor by any means, but playing a character who fearlessly celebrated and appreciated the culture of drag had a profound affect on me.

How would you describe the event?

If you love Drag, live music, and the hits of past and present black female artist Ten's Across the Bpard will be your Chicken Soup for the Soul. The show will also feature a greek chorus of fiercely talented #blackgirlmagic (Brittane Rowe, Heather Harris, and Jada Temple).

How long have you been doing drag?

I have only been doing drag for a little over a year. I have had the privilege to perform in Brooklyn specifically at the annual Brooklyn Drag Festival, Bushwig. Also I perform in a queer POC Cabaret/Burlesque show at the Starr Bar in Bushwick, on the third Thursday of  each month. On Thursday July 19 at 9:30 I'll be doing a set that might include a sneak peak from 10s.

What is your background?

The person responsible for the creslaytion of Dionne Slay is Basit Shittu. I have been 50 shades of extra my whole life, but my passion for singing and performing started at a very young age. I grew up singing in church, and as a kid I was either in rehearsal for the school a play, or learning Aaliyah, and Cheetah Girl choreography in my grandparents living room. I eventually earned my BFA in musical Theatre, and I  most recently toured through Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland with the European company of Hair the Musical.

Where do you hope to see your career go?

The sky is the limit! I want to make a difference in the world, and represent the queer POC community with pride and grace.

What is your next project?

I would love for Tens Across the Board to become a monthly show where Dionne Slay pays tribute to other legendary black women of music. Come check us out Dixon Place July 28 @10  to see the first of many more celebrations to come.

Where can we follow you?


instagram @dionneslay or @basitshittu


Tens Across The Board, Dixon Place  (161A Chrystie Street, between Rivington and Delancey)

July 28 @ 10PM
$15 in advance $18 at the door

$12 in advance $15 at the door

Trevor Chauvin