Billy Porter Reflects on Album Release and How Far His Career Has Come
It's been almost a decade since the Pittsburgh-born Billy Porter released a solo album, and since then much has changed for the award-winning artist. Perhaps best known for his Tony Award-winning role as 'Lola' in the hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots, Porter's musical background is based in gospel, soul and R&B. On April 15, 2014, Porter released his debut on Concord Records, Billy's Back on Broadway. In a recent blog entry, titled 'Oh My, How Things Have Changed.' Porter reflects on the release of the new album and how his life has changed since the start of his career.
Check out an excerpt below and click here to read the full entry on his blog.
Advancing in age is a powerful thing. It can be the most comforting and grounding aspect of this journey we call life - if you let it.
I had a record deal on a major label back in the 90′s. My album dropped on my birthday in 1997. "Do you remember the 21st night of September...?" I remember being called to jury duty on my birthday and begging the judge to not put me on the case I was called for because I had celebrating to do! This was a once in a lifetime, life altering experience. My dreams were coming true, and I wanted to experience the change unfolding in real time. The idea of being confined to a court room listening to the case of a man who robbed a corner deli at gunpoint was of no significance to me. The judge asked the group of us who were begging to opt out of our civic duty to approach the bench, one-by-one, and plead our case. She was African-American and regal, stern and side-eyed chastising in that way that black women have the lock on.
"Next!" she barked. Not looking up from whatever she was reading.
I tip-toed as I approached the bench, trying not to make a peep with my hard- soled shoes as they clickity-clacked through the echo chamber that was the courtroom.
"Yes!," she snarled.
I took a beat. Leaned in or... up...and whispered, "Your honor...? I...I...my album was released today and I need to - "
"Your who?" she growled.
I cleared my throat and tried to whisper in the stillest and smallest voice I could muster. "I have an new album that was released today."
"Speak up, young man," she bellowed. "I can't hear THAT!"
"My new album was released today and I have a copy for you!" as I dug around in my murse.
She looked up and side-eyed me. She grabbed the CD out of my hands, inspected the jewel case. Then took a breath...
"You're that young man I've seen on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, aren't you?" as a smile crept into the corners of her mouth.
"I love that show. I love that woman. And you're quite the talent." "Thank you, Your Honor."
"Get out of here and go enjoy your day."
Ask and you shall receive. If only everything in life followed that turn of phrase. I mean really. From the moment my first album was released, or from the moment I signed the contract with DV8 Record/A&M back in the mid-90′s, I was thrust into a world of hetero-normative misogyny and homophobia that, in retrospect, could have and probably should have killed me. But I managed to survive. Thinking back to the myriad meetings I had with record executives with the not so "coded" rhetoric in relation to my sexuality and how it was being received by the public: "He shouldn't talk like that...He shouldn't wear that outfit...He's to bubbly...He's too funny....He's too fat...He's to soft...He should be careful what he says out loud. People will know..."