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BWW Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Darius de Haas

An interview with recording artist and Broadway performer Darius de Haas.

BWW Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Darius de Haas

My voice teacher used to call them money notes. Those WOW notes that really set you aside as an individual. The sound that makes an audience stop what they are doing and take notice. Many people have money notes, but you know the money notes from singer/actor Darius de Haas when you hear them.

The first time I heard them was in the show CHILDREN OF EDEN where Darius had an amazingly clear and strong sound, and could also sit up there for what seemed like forever. If you haven't heard "Lost in the Wilderness", you should take a listen. Darius sings opposite Hunter Foster in the song about Cain and Able's struggle.

Fast forward to one of my favorite events housed at Jazz at Lincoln Center each year, the Night of Broadway Stars, benefiting the organization, Covenant House. This organization not only has a great mission and does outstanding work for homeless youth, but they also put on a great show every year. Some of the stand-out performers have included Audra McDonald, Capathia Jenkins, Shoshana Bean, and Laura Osnes to name a few. I had the same WOW moment many times over the years during these performances but was excited to see that Darius would be on the roster several years ago and a couple of times since.

BWW Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Darius de Haas
Darius with Kelli Rabke
CHILDREN OF EDEN

Within a few notes, I recognized his voice and within a short time, his "money notes" made themselves heard. I am always impressed with talented people who give back to the community. I am so glad to hear that Darius is not only continuing to sing to help others in need but also recognizes that it is just as important to be generous to others in their journey as people like Stephen Schwartz and Vanessa Williams have been to him!

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

DdH: I have had a few. One who comes to mind is the head of the costume shop I did work-study in college under (I went to Columbia College in Chicago). His name was Matthew and he passed away from AIDS in the year that I worked with him. Sweet talented man and he showed such grace and fortitude in the face of a disease that at that time so much was still unknown. I would say to him thank you for being such a beacon of light, courage, and patience. I remember a lovely dinner he made for me and he was so sick. There was such stigma around whether one could touch things that a person with full-blown AIDS had touched- let alone cooked. He was a beautiful human being.

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

DdH:Its given me so many lessons. Mainly that there is always something new to learn. I always put myself in the mindset of the student learning new things- even on those occasions where I may be teaching. I can't say what it's taken away- perhaps there is less need for behaviors that don't serve me anymore- needless worry over things you can't control like guessing what they want in an audition. Do your work and bring the best of what you can bring- which can change constantly. So have fun!

BWW Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Darius de Haas
Darius with his sister, Aisha de Haas

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

DdH: I usually like quiet if possible. Just to center myself, breathe, and relax.

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

DdH: I gotta give 2. Making my Broadway debut in Kiss Of The Spiderwoman. Just for the sheer excitement of making my Broadway debut. And the great generosity of that whole cast at the time (Chita Rivera, Brian Stokes Mitchell, the fantastic ensemble I was so proud to be part of).

And my first time singing this song I recorded, "Day Dream" , written by Billy Strayhorn, live with a full orchestra. It was the culmination of me taking a lot of risks on expanding my career into other things like concerts and recordings and I recorded my first solo CD of songs by a black gay man, Mr. Strayhorn, who wrote some of the greatest songs of the American Songbook (Lush Life, Take The a Train) and found a whole other world opened up to me.

BWW Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Darius de Haas
Darius with Linda Purl

NA: What are you most proud of?

DdH: The balance in my life of my marriage and family and the multifaceted aspects of my career that encompass concerts, recordings, theater, TV/Film, travel (how I miss travel in these COVID times but it will come back). It certainly has its challenges and it's not easy but I consider myself very fortunate to have the life I have.

NA: When was your first performance in public and what did you sing?

DdH: It was on a bandstand in a club at maybe 6 or 7 years old with my father playing bass (my father, Eddie de Haas, is a jazz bassist who's played with the best in the business) and I sang "Sing" from Sesame Street.

NA: What did working with Stephen Schwartz teach you?

DdH: Again generosity. And just getting in there and doing it. When I auditioned for "Children of Eden", at the callback I said "I think Lost In The Wilderness will work better in my voice a step up from where it's written" and he got up from the table where the creative team was sitting, went to the piano and said "Like this?" and transposed it for me on the spot. Thrilling. And working with him and everyone on that show was such a great adventure for me. I loved it. I hold that in my memory and when I work with younger performers or anyone who aspires to perform I want them to have that joy and to experience what it is to truly play in the room.

BWW Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Darius de Haas
Darius with Vanessa Williams

NA: What was your favorite memory of working with Vanessa Williams?

DdH: There are so many. Another generous soul who has been so wonderful to me. She's family. Truly. Here's one- I was at an impasse with my theater and concert career and asked her at one point if she ever had an opportunity to work together I would be grateful. I think a month later she asked me to sing a duet at a benefit concert with her at Carnegie Hall. It was amazing. It was supposed to be one night. I ended up touring with her on and off for roughly 6 years.

NA: Do you enjoy singing in the intimate cabaret clubs? If so, why?

DdH: Yes. Because I believe there is a specific art to being able to convey something in a small room without overdoing. It's no less than singing in a concert hall but you learn how to get a song across in a more focused way because you can actually see people (as opposed to when you're further away like on a Broadway stage or huge theater).

BWW Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Darius de Haas
Darius with Matt Doyle, Liz Callaway, and John Lloyd Young

NA: How did you get involved with Covenant House and what have you been able to do with them during this time?

DdH: I had performed in a number of Night of Broadway Stars events for Covenant House over the years. I was asked to do their inaugural Broadway Sleep Out event- it's now called the Stage and Screen Sleepout- in which performers from the Broadway/TV/Film community fundraise and give up their bed for one night and sleep outside in a symbolic gesture of solidarity with homeless youth. After that event, I was asked to be on the Board of Directors and have, among other things, worked with CH in getting a new building for its residents- more room, more beds, more efficient services for the youth medically, mentally, homeless young mothers. Of course, we've been waylaid by the pandemic and CH has really had some major challenges with COVID but we just keep pushing through.

BWW Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Darius de Haas
LaChanze with Darius

NA: What creative element are you working on now?

DdH: A number of things. I worked on the TV show "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" last year as the singing voice of the character "Shy Baldwin" (played by the amazing Le Roy McClain) and in the pandemic, I was asked to actually perform the songs I recorded and it was interpolated into an FYI video for award consideration -like the Emmys, etc. You can see this on You TubeOne of the original songs I sang, "One Less Angel", written by Tom Mizer and Curtis Moore (who are amazing writers from the theater) was nominated for an Emmy, so that was very exciting.

I am a founding member of Black Theatre United which came together in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and just way too many senseless killings of black and brown human beings in this country. We have been doing our part in rooting out systemic and institutionalized racism in the theater industry and in this country by helping Stacey Abram's Fair Fight to get out the vote, getting people to fill out the census, having these great virtual town hall events with Stacy Abrams and Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and doing the work to advocate for more black people working in all aspects of the industry including directing, producing, general management, stage management, creative design, sound design, etc.

BWW Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Darius de Haas

And I have released my first-holiday single "Let Me Carry You This Christmas" (written by Mizer and Moore). I'm so excited about this! I love holiday music and they wrote a song based on my and my sister's experiences caretaking for our now elderly parents- now safely housed at the Actor's Fund Home. It's about how holiday traditions shift when the family dynamics change- child now taking care of a parent or what have you. Its available on all the streaming platforms (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music plus more), and the video is out on YouTube as well. I have found in this pandemic year that the song actually has a more expansive meaning in all the wonderful people who take care of others- being that the holiday season can be and will be so difficult and heartbreaking for many. I'm talking about friends taking care of friends, essential workers, front line workers, nurses, not to mention the countless home health care workers who take care of the elderly. I'm so happy to say that the song has partnered with The Actors Fund (actorsfund.org/LMCYTC) and Caring Kind (www.caringkindnyc.org/yearend) to raise funds and awareness.

And I have my Christmas concert, called "Darius de Haas: Let Me Carry You This Christmas" premiering on Radio Free Birdland/ BROADWAY WORLD on DEC 10 https://events.broadwayworld.com/event/darius-de-haas-let-me-carry-you-this-christmas-12-10-7-pm-et/

I'll of course be singing my new holiday release as well as holiday favorites (I'll Be Home For Christmas, Let It Snow) old school Christmas jams (Give Love On Christmas Day -made popular by the Jackson 5 and The Temptations) some Whitney Houston (Who Would Imagine A King from "The Preacher's Wife) plus the classic Nat King Cole "The Christmas Song" and a whole lot more. It's what I would want to be on my full-fledged Christmas album which I hope to have out by next year.


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