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Billy Porter – At the Corner of Broadway and Soul

Appearing at Joe's Pub on May 9, 10, and 17th to perform a mix of Broadway, soul and gospel tunes as well as recording his second solo album will be Broadway star Billy Porter. Porter just returned to New York from the Pittsburgh stage where he performed in Topdog/Underdog at the City Theatre. Most recently on the New York theater scene, Billy was seen in Merchant of Venice, and Radiant Baby at the Public Theater. His Broadway credits include Grease!, Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Smokey Joe's Cafe and the Dreamgirls Actors' Fund benefit.

You don't hear the words Broadway, soul and gospel together too often, but for Porter it's simply a reflection of his upbringing and musical journey. "I started out singing in the Pentecostal church where I was a preacher by twelve, and I was turned on to theatre in middle school, so the rest for me is history. I believe that musical theater is where organized religion and homosexuality meet!" Billy explained recently, discussing his upcoming concerts. "It's a very unlikely juxtaposition of genres and it's hard to explain. They all of them vibrate inside of me and it's time for them to come together."

Broadway will be primarily represented with new theater tunes that Porter originated, written by Adam Guettel ("Awaiting You") and Jason Robert Brown ("King of the World"). "I've been blessed to have the pleasure of working with many of the new Broadway composers. I met Jason Robert Brown in a piano bar before anyone knew his name, and Adam Guettel, Ricky Ian Gordon, Michael John Lachusia, Jeanine Tesori are all my contemporaries who humble me with their gifts." Those hoping to hear some traditionally Broadway tunes as well won't be disappointed because tunes by Porter favorite Stephen Sondheim will be heard as well.

In addition to working on his new concerts, Porter is also writing his first show "Ghetto Superstar" from which he'll showcase a couple of tunes as well. "Performing and creating are two different worlds completely. The first requires you to interpret other people's material brilliantly. After a certain age, if the material isn't sufficient, you burn out. The latter allows you to tell your own stories, which gives an artist power."

 

But why start writing now at this stage of his career? "Because as an African-American man (who just happens to be gay), the kind of work that I'm interested in doing is not in high volume. And when great roles come around, they're not coming to me; for whatever reason. So, I figure can complain, or I can get off my ass and show the world what I'm really made of."

Showing the world what he's made of is a theme that runs constant in Porter's life, a self-described control freak, who is using the concert and show to take control of his own destiny. "No one's interested in doing a studio album with me at the moment, and I'm just sick of waiting for other people to give me permission to do my art. A live CD is a very cost effective way of getting product into the marketplace and I need to be back in the marketplace pronto!"

Porter's only seen 10-20 concerts of others throughout his life, but he's been performing his own solo shows since his days back in church where he would sing, musical direct and just for good measure, do solos on his alto saxophone so he's certainly no stranger to the concert stage. When asked to reflect back on some previous highlights of his career, Billy immediately lists his first Broadway Opening Night (Miss Saigon), his debut CD "Untitled" on A&M records, his recent residency at The Public Theater, as a writer/director under the mentorship of George C. Wolfe, filming "The Broken Hearts Club," singing for President Clinton at the White House, and singing on the Rosie O'Donnel Christmas Special. Those that attend his upcoming concerts at Joe's Pub, are certainly in for another highlight in an ever growing career by the very talented Billy Porter.



Joe's Pub is located at
425 Lafayette Street
. Tickets for the concerts are available by calling (212) 239-6200; those wishing to dine before the show should make reservations at (212) 539-8778. Show time is 7:30 PM.

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