The year is 1855. Blackface minstrelsy is the most popular form of entertainment in a nation about to be torn apart by the battle over slavery. Henry Sims, a fugitive slave and a brilliant musician, has escaped to Philadelphia. He is befriended by a leader of a popular minstrel troupe struggling to compete with similar ensembles. Henry's skill could help the struggling troupe. Black and white performers are not allowed to appear together onstage.