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BWW Interview: John Lloyd Young of VEGAS VALENTINE

The Tony Award recipient is mastering the virtual medium and other artistic explorations as well.

BWW Interview: John Lloyd Young of VEGAS VALENTINEThere is a saying that "a writer must write" but that philosophy could be applied to every artistic soul in the world. There is an energy, a force that lives inside of these people who provide the world with beauty and inspiration, and that light must not be diminished. Living in quarantine has not slowed John Lloyd Young's creative process even a little bit. He has been using the internet to bring his miraculous music to the fans who fill the concert halls he would have played this year, and on February 12th he will live stream his annual Valentine's concert. The music isn't all, though, because John Lloyd Young has also used this time to work on his art, a talent not everyone knows he has, but a fascinating and colorful way of expressing himself beyond the microphone.

Interested in learning more about these creations and his upcoming show, I caught up with Mr. Young with a few questions about music, Valentine's Day, and his work with the Obama administration.

This interview was conducted digitally and is reproduced with minimal edits.

John Lloyd Young, welcome to Broadway World! Thank you for visiting with us today, and congratulations on your upcoming Valentine's concert.

Congratulate me if I survive.

What's to survive?

I'm billing the afterparty as a sort of Valentine's speed dating round. I'm going to sit at a table, drink a bottle of wine, look into the camera and take voice calls. One-on-one.

Look at you! Since this is our first time chatting together, I should ask the blunt question: do you prefer to have people call you John, John Lloyd, JLY? What makes you most comfortable?

John Lloyd makes me most comfortable. Then I know you're talking to THIS John, not THAT one. There's lots of us.

BWW Interview: John Lloyd Young of VEGAS VALENTINESo, let's jump in with the upcoming concert - this will be your fourth live stream show, so obviously, you've mastered the medium. What's your secret to a successful live stream?

I don't know that I've mastered the medium so much as I have nothing to lose, so why not just talk to the audience and sing some nice songs till we all get through this. It's like an enhanced Zoom call but, like, with me on a real stage, you at home in your jammies.

BWW Interview: John Lloyd Young of VEGAS VALENTINEYour Valentine shows are a big part of your artistic mission statement - how did you come to start this tradition, and what's your focus for replacing the intimacy for which your shows are known, in a virtual setting?

My first Valentine's Day set was for the Cafe Carlyle and I returned several years for Valentine's following. When I play the camera in these live streams, I'm always thinking of those audience members sitting at those front tables, literally a few feet away.

Put a picture in my head of what viewers will be treated to, in the name of love, on February 12th.

I'm reaching back to my own favorite love songs from a classic time: The Platters, The Righteous Brothers, Can't Take My Eyes Off You. Luscious sounds.

BWW Interview: John Lloyd Young of VEGAS VALENTINE



There are singers with great range who have a philosophy about portioning out their high notes, believing that they become more difficult as the years pass. What is your relationship with your treasured, or "money", notes like?

I don't think my appeal has ever been the notes I hit, per se, but rather the way I make my way through the lyrics of a song with great feeling. Good sounds happen incidentally!

You are a California resident, and the news is filled with stories about life on the West Coast during the pandemic. How are things for you and your family these days?

It's different, but I've been isolated beyond my own control before, albeit under different circumstances. You take the humiliation on the nose and pivot. Like to live streams. Like to art.

I'd love to hear more about your artwork, which I have had a chance to look at on your website. What drew you to begin painting, and how did you develop your style?

BWW Interview: John Lloyd Young of VEGAS VALENTINEIt's not painting but rather a form of sculpture technique called assemblage. I also borrow concepts from arte povera, and obviously Warhol. I was thinking about the nature of celebrity and how it fades. But grocery store brands are around for generations. I wanted to exalt them. That's how it started.

Are you the kind of artist who creates every day, or do you find that inspiration strikes and you lock yourself up until the artwork is finished?

I have lots of experiments in progress. My studio looks like someone took a wand and touched things and they got spattered with gemstones. Some are only half-finished because I get far along enough with an idea to see how it will turn out and I decide it won't really work. I go work on these experiments on my own schedule when I feel like working. But with series I decide to release, I sometimes have to be on an aggressive schedule because I am fulfilling the sales. It's fun. I do a lot of reading: books on tape.

BWW Interview: John Lloyd Young of VEGAS VALENTINE

Did your work as a visual artist assist you in your work on the President's Committee On The Arts and Humanities, or was that appointment by President Obama based on your work in the performing arts?

BWW Interview: John Lloyd Young of VEGAS VALENTINEMy artwork got me the attention of the White House, but it wasn't unambiguously good attention. The appointment was for the artist as a whole-you know-the person. Jersey Boys gave people an idea of who I might be. The Obamas know who I really am.

I'm sure our Broadway World readers would love to know a little about your experience working with The Obamas on this committee. Do you have any stories or insights you could share with us?

A highlight was the Obama's State Dinner for Japan. The movie cast of Jersey Boys had dinner seated amongst Obama's cabinet and the Japanese dignitaries, and we performed in the Lincoln Dining room afterward. Jen Psaki, Tom Daschle, Leader Pelosi, John Kerry - you name them - were all in the room. After the performance, Joe Biden, a big fan of the era, specifically took me aside and told me "America is still the best country in the world." He really believes it. He really believes it.

BWW Interview: John Lloyd Young of VEGAS VALENTINE



Is there a chance that one of your pieces might be the cover art for an upcoming album? Maybe an album of love songs as a companion piece for your Valentine concerts?

Now there's an idea!

John Lloyd Young, what's your favorite love song?

Unchained Melody. I try to sing it as much as possible.

Thank you so much for chatting with me today, I am most grateful to you. Have a great show on the 12th, and I hope to see you back in the clubs, real soon.

It's gonna be so great when we're all together again.

John Lloyd Young's Vegas Valentine will stream live from The Space in Las Vegas on Friday, February 12 at 6:00 PM PT/9:00 PM ET. The pay-per-view concert is $30 and the concert with VIP virtual after-party is $100 beginning at 7:45 PM PT/10:45 PM ET. The concert will be available OnDemand for one week following the live performance. For tickets and additional information, please visit www.thespacelv.com.

Performance photos by Rodney Fleming, other photos provided by John Lloyd Young.

BWW Interview: John Lloyd Young of VEGAS VALENTINE


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