Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Capathia Jenkins

Ms. Jenkins and Mr. Adler have a sit-down.

By: Aug. 24, 2020

Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Capathia Jenkins

"If I should stay, I would only be in your way

So I'll go, but I know

I'll think of you every step of the way"

The above is, of course, the iconic opening line to the song written by Dolly Parton and made famous by Whitney Houston by the mega hit film The Bodyguard. The music played and the lyrics started, but this time, it wasn't Ms. Houston's voice and the woman wasn't singing about a man she lost. The voice was just as bright and clear, but belonged to the super-talented Broadway actress, Capathia Jenkins. She was singing her heart out about the love she has for the children of Covenant House in New York City.

Every spring for the past eight years, I have had the honor to work with the team from Covenant House, NYC to help execute their NYC Annual Fundraising Gala. They are an amazing organization that have helped over a million homeless youth get off the streets or out of abusive

Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Capathia Jenkins
Capathia and Jeremy Jordan

situations, get food, and provide shelter and support to help turn their lives around to be able to build a positive future for themselves.

One of the performers I looked forward to seeing each year was the show-stopping singer, Capathia Jenkins. She is the type of performer that always gives her all on stage with a heart felt, goose-bump-inducing, powerhouse performance. I could see, as I watched her year after year, that she believed in this organization's mission and really cared about these kids. There is something magical that occurs when a performer is able to do what they love to help others.

While I've seen Capathia blow the roof off of a theater with her dynamic voice, it was the tenderness and love from deep inside of her soul that tugged on the heartstrings of the audience of over 1,000 people last year inside Rose Theater. I truly believe that the world is a better place for having passionate, amazing people like Capathia in it. There is no doubt in my mind that she will continue to inspire youth in need and stay true to what she sang that night in the words, "I Will Always Love You."

NA: Who is your mentor and what would you like to say to your mentor?

CJ: My mentor is my Mom, Sadie Mae White who passed away years ago- Mom, you taught me so many life lessons that I am grateful for, most importantly you taught me to always be myself. Stand in the center of who I am no matter what noise is going on around me and even when my choices aren't popular. This has served me well in my career and life in general. You began teaching me this when I was very young and to this day it is a guiding principle for my life, thank you so much.

Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Capathia Jenkins
Martin Short, Capathia and Brooks Ashmanskas

NA: What has this business given you and what has it taken away?

CJ: This business has given me incredible challenges and incredible accomplishments on the other side of those challenges. It has given me beautiful adventures and wild experiences on stages around the world, many opportunities to meet and share with people from all walks of life and pure joy when I'm in the zone doing what I love.

This business has, at times, taken away time from family and friends particularly on special occasions and milestone events. While doing 8 shows a week, it took time away from my much needed recovery physically and vocally which sometimes threatened to take my joy.

NA: What is the hour like before you go on stage?

CJ: It is very quiet, I like to put on my makeup and get ready in silence, it grounds me. I like to

Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Capathia Jenkins
James Monroe Iglehart, Steven Reineke and Capathia
New York Pops Concert

clear my mind and be open for the experience of being on stage.

NA: If you could experience one performance over again, which one would it be and why?

CJ: Every performance is unique and special in it's own way and I think each one prepares me for the next so I would not want to go back and do any of them again. I love the lessons and memories of each performance but when it's done I am on to the next.

NA: What are you most proud of?

CJ: I am most proud of my work with young people- The kids at Covenant House, where I am a member of the board, The kids on stage and kids in the balcony at The NY Pops, where I sit on the board and the various masterclasses and interactions I have with young people after a show. These things feed my soul, it is important that people walk away from an encounter with me feeling better about themselves, this is my calling.

NA: What was the first song you remember singing in public and at what age?

Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Capathia Jenkins
Capathia in NEWSIES on Broadway

CJ: 'Rudolph the red nosed reindeer'- 3rd-grade chorus Christmas assembly, I was 9 years old.

NA: My wife and I were two of the lucky people who saw you in Civil War. What was that journey for you to be a part of that show?

CJ: That was my Broadway debut and I learned many lessons, the first of which was at my call back audition. As I sat in the waiting area I could hear every woman before me and they were belting it out but I had planned to sing the melody, dig into the lyric but with a softer tone. I was so nervous wondering if I should belt or stick with my plan. When I got in the room I decided to trust

Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Capathia Jenkins
Capathia, Billy Stritch and Aisha de Haas

my instincts. I got the show and from that time on I have always trusted my instincts, it has served me well. I will never forget standing center stage at the St. James theater on opening night singing 'Candle In The Window', the very song I sang at my call back months earlier. It was magical.

NA: You have performed with many symphonies. How did that begin?

CJ: That began back in 2007, John Such Artists Management was looking for a Black woman for their show 'Broadway Rocks' and my friend, Rob Evan recommended me, I auditioned and got the job. I have since then met and worked with many conductors and orchestras all over the

Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Capathia Jenkins
Capathia and Richard Jay-Alexander

world. I absolutely love it.

NA: One of my favorite non-JALC events while working at Jazz at Lincoln Center for the past 12 years has always been Covenant House's "Night of Broadway Stars". You have donated your time and supported their cause for many years. How did you begin working with them and why are you so passionate about their mission?

CJ: Many years ago the composer, Neil Berg asked me to sing at that benefit "Night of Broadway Stars for Covenant House" . It was just a gig. I spent time with the young people in the greenroom many of whom are Black and Brown and we just talked about their dreams and aspirations and I answered all of their questions about how to get to Broadway. They gravitated towards me and I to them. I asked Neil and the organizers if they would give me the date for the next year so I could put in my schedule, I did not want to miss it. A few years later, I got a call from the president of Covenant House, Kevin Ryan asking if I would consider joining their board. They'd observed me with the kids at different events and wanted to have my 'heart' on their board. I have been a board member for 8 years and I love it. I often say, I am happiest when I'm on stage but the work I do to help and give back to these young people lights me up from the inside much like being on stage. I

Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Capathia Jenkins
Tony DeSare and Capathia

am better for knowing these young people who dream and accomplish great things in spite of the adversities in their lives. They are my heroes.

NA: What is something you'd love to sing in the future?

CJ: During this pandemic with all of my shows being canceled, I miss singing live and on stage in front of an audience. So, I could answer this question by saying I'd love to sing ANYTHING. But, when I think a little deeper I'd say, I hope someone is writing a song that would help me express all that I am feeling during this Covid-19 and civil unrest. I'm managing deep sadness, anger, anxiety and rage but underneath it all I am hopeful for the future and grateful for the love of my husband, family and friends.