Billy Porter at at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts
Billy Porter is a musical phenom, having been singing, dancing and performing for the past 30 years. Now you get a chance to see this enigmatic performer live with “The Soul of Richard Rodgers” at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts.
Billy first sang at his church's choir at the age of five. Then in middle school he discovered theatre. His grandmother and great aunt took him to see the national tour of “The Wiz.”
“I was like 'Oh my God, I want to do that,'” Billy says. “I went the next day to my music teacher and asked for the sheet music – I wanted to sing 'Home.'
He could sing for a living – and he was good at it!
“I just became obsessed because it was just so fun. I could express myself in ways I had never really experienced or understood how to do before,” he says. “So I just dove in.”
Billy's first paying gig was at an amusement park called Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh. He was 15 years old. The company of performers did six shows a day, with varying casts. Billy was a part of that production every summer for three years. Having started on the path to creativity, he never looked back.
He left to school at Carnegie Mellon to “make it” on Broadway and succeed he did. Lola in Kinky Boots, and Teen Angel in Grease are just some of his iconic roles. Billy nabbed a Tony in 2013 for his work in Kinky Boots.
“My favorite performance is whatever I'm doing right now,” he says. “Performing is a space where I get to put love into the world – and give up everything that I have.”
Over the years Billy has achieved roles in movies and TV shows. Right now he will be starring as the character Pray Tell in the new Ryan Murphy show “Posed,” a musical dance drama set in 1980s New York. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles’ 7th Annual Voice Awards is also honoring Billy with the “Courageous Voice Award” for being an LGBTQ icon and a role model. If that's not enough talent, Billy is also a writer, creating pieces like “Ghetto Superstar (The Man That I Am),” a one-man autobiographical show, and “While I Yet Live,” which premiered Off-Broadway.
His musical career spans four solo albums. His first was an R&B album called “Untitled.” Then he released a live album called “Live from Joe's Pub” which was a mix of Broadway, R&B, Soul and Gospel music. The third album was “Billy's Back on Broadway” which was performed with a full orchestra. Billy calls it his “Barbra Streisand moment!”
The most recent album is “The Soul of Richard Rodgers” It's a mix of Richard Rodgers' music as R&B, Soul, Hip Hop, and Gospel and is Billy's first as producer and content curator, with collaborators James Sampliner and Michael “Lofey” Sandlofer. Billy's favorite song from the album is the gospel version of “Edelweiss”
“It's very timely and touches me,” he says. “The language of Broadway is expanding.”
Billy Porter will be bringing the album to life with “The Soul of Richard Rodgers”performance at The Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts Saturday, June 2 at 8 p.m. His joyful and powerful interpretations of composer Richard Rogers is the perfect way to spend a musical evening! Single tickets beginning at $38. Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts is located at 18111 Nordhoff St., in Northridge. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 818-677-3000 or visit www.TheSoraya.org