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Billy Porter Jr. and Scott Goldman
Billy Porter Jr. | "Required Listening" Podcast
Porter discusses his imaginative new album, his process of learning the delicate balance between humility and leadership, and how theater saved his life
For three decades, Billy Porter Jr. has been blazing his own trail as a true quadruple-threat artist. A singer, actor, songwriter, and playwright, Porter has found success on his own terms. Since bursting on the scene in the first revival of "Grease," Porter has made various Broadway and film appearances and delivered a Tony Award and GRAMMY-winning performance originating the role of Lola in "Kinky Boots."
Now, Porter has released his latest music triumph, the ambitious new album, Billy Porter Presents: The Soul Of Richard Rodgers, and he's taken on the charismatic role of Pray Tell on Ryan Murphy's new groundbreaking FX series "Pose." His impressive body of work and continuous artistic evolution proves Porter's talent is matched only by his drive. Lucky for us, Portner joined us for an episode of the GRAMMY Museum's podcast, "Required Listening."
As Porter reveals to "Required Listening" host Scott Goldman, Artistic Director of the GRAMMY Museum, the stage called to him from an early age, starting with his time in church as a child. Interestingly, his new album embodies a soulful sound that harkens back to those church roots while infusing the flair and brilliance of his Broadway work.
When asked why Broadway music and soul music work so well together for him, Porter says, "I think it is my journey to it. I grew up singing in the church, singing gospel music, singing R&B and soul music, and you know, [my] childhood wasn't so lovely. I was looking for stuff to occupy my time, get me out. ... In the sixth grade I was introduced to theater. Being onstage in a theatrical production and going to a Pentecostal church are kind of the same thing. Pentecostal church service on a Sunday morning is theater of the highest order. So it just worked for me."
It sure did work. Billy Porter Presents: The Soul Of Richard Rodgers feels uniquely his own, as he curated the project as a celebration of the work of the great GRAMMY-winning composer, Richard Rodgers. But he doesn’t do it alone. Porter called upon his circle of musical friends to contribute to the album, including Pentatonix, Ledisi, India.Arie, Brandon Victor Dixon, Zaire Park, Leslie Odom Jr., and many more. Collectively, the project is an exhibition in collaboration, something that came naturally to the experienced entertainer. But the real glue that holds the album together, according to Porter, is the timeless familiarity and quality of the songs.
"When people know the song, the deconstruction of the arrangement becomes that much more amazing to them because they know where it came from. I think with Richard Rodgers' music, that was the pop music of the day," says Porter. "Everybody on the planet knows a Richard Rodgers song, even if you don't know that you know one. … So the music being in our DNA has allowed the project to resonate in a really great way."
Porter didn't get to a place in his career where he could execute a project of this magnitude by sitting back and letting things happen. He came to Broadway through years of hard work, standing up for his artistry and refusing to be pigeonholed into roles granted by an industry that wanted his high-flying vocal acrobatics but were unwilling to help tell his story. Porter learned to make success on his own terms by demanding respect and challenging himself in new and different ways, something he has called, "owning the leader in me."
"I've always felt like a leader, but there was this part of me coming from the church, the idea of, 'You can't be braggadocious. It's a gift and therefore you need to be humble.' And that's all good," says Porter. "But the humility of it, for me, it reached a ceiling. I had to go, 'You know what? I actually know what I’m doing, and I actually need to be out in the front doing that. So I'm going to honor that. I'm going to own that. I'm going to have faith in that. I'm going to step out on faith and I'm going to do it.'"
One thing is clear: Porter belongs onstage. He also left listeners of "Required Listening" with some valuable advice for others singers on how to find the path to where they belong.
"The only thing that you can be is the best version of yourself," says Porter. "I lived it. People tried to make me something else because who I am and what I represent made them uncomfortable. So the minute you stop caring about that, you find your voice."
Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY
Director Allen Hughes' four-part documentary takes home Best Music Film honors for its portrayal of the unlikely partnership that changed the music business
The team behind The Defiant Ones celebrated a big win for Best Music Film at the 60th GRAMMY Awards. The crew awarded include director Allen Hughes and producers Sarah Anthony, Fritzi Horstman, Broderick Johnson, Gene Kirkwood, Andrew Kosove, Laura Lancaster, Michael Lombardo, Jerry Longarzo, Doug Pray & Steven Williams.
In a year rife with quality music documentaries and series, the bar has been set high for this dynamic category. The Defiant Ones is a four-part HBO documentary telling the story of an unlikely duo taking the music business by storm seems better suited for fantastical pages of a comic book, but for engineer-turned-mogul Jimmy Iovine and super-producer Dr. Dre, it's all truth.The Defiant Ones recounts their histories, their tribulations and their wild success. These include first-hand accounts from those who were there in Iovine's early days, such as Bruce Springsteen and U2's Bono, as well as those on board when Dre and Iovine joined forces, such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem.
The competition was stiff as the category was filled with compelling films such as One More Time With Feeling, Two Trains Runnin', Soundbreaking, and Long Strange Trip.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors
Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it
Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.
McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award.
The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.
"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."
With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.
Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs
Also see James Fauntleroy, Reba McIntire, Latroit, and more after they stepped off the GRAMMY stage
What do artists do the moment they walk off the GRAMMY stage from presenting, accepting an award or performing? Now, you can find out.
Also see Best Pop Duo/Group Performance GRAMMY winners Portugal. The Man posing with their first career GRAMMY Award, Best Roots Gospel Album GRAMMY winner Reba McIntire right after she walked offstage, Best R&B Song GRAMMY winner James Fauntleroy, Best Remixed Recording GRAMMY winner Latroit, and many more, with these photos from backstage during the 60th GRAMMY Awards.
Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images
Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show
Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion
There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.
The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.
This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.
"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."
Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.