Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers

Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers

by Billy PorterBilly Porter


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Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers may come as a bit of surprise to his theater fans, following two other Broadway-themed records that took on a more, shall we say, orchestra-pit-friendly demeanor. Even 2005's appropriately titled At the Corner of Broadway + Soul, a live album with relatively limited accompaniment, kept its footing in the showmanship and vibrato of the Great White Way. Here, Porter instead commits to a decidedly urban contemporary approach, in terms of both production and delivery. It's a sound that recalls the '80s and '90s, including, for longtime Porter fans, his Untitled debut from 1997. The record is also meaningfully a "Billy Porter Presents" rather than a "Billy Porter Sings" album; he is featured on five of its twelve tracks, mostly duets. Those and the rest of the set are loaded with high-powered guests, who share over a half-dozen Tony and Grammy Awards, and many more nominations, between them. (Porter himself won a Tony in 2013 for Best Actor in a Musical for Kinky Boots.) They include Hamilton original Broadway cast members Leslie Odom, Jr., Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Christopher Jackson. The latter two reimagine "If I Loved You" from Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel with jazzy keyboards, funky bass, and a small chorus of soulful backing vocals. In a perhaps surprising move, given that it's often a highlight wherever it appears, Porter hands over Rodgers & Hart's "My Funny Valentine" to 2016 Tony winner Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple), who does a smooth R&B rendition befitting the album's sultry tone. Among the more unexpected guests are Pentatonix, who open the track list with a stylized, syncopated soul twist on "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," backing Porter's lead. Porter also does a duet with India.Arie, "Carefully Taught," from South Pacific, that's one of a few socially conscious tunes in the rotation. Also from South Pacific, "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair," apparently selected for the phrase, is made into one. A duet between our presenter and Todrick Hall, it quickly trades the show tune's melody for some scathing and timely raps and vocal vamps directed at a certain reality star-turned-president ("Show him what the door is for"). A funky "Lady Is a Tramp" with rapper Zaire Park also takes liberties with the lyrics, and a solo Porter closes the album with a song he performed for Concert for America, which offered counterprogramming for Donald Trump's inauguration earlier in 2017. It's an R&B-styled reinvention of "Edelweiss" that maintains the original's sincerity and political subtext, with added commentary. For listeners not put off by the non-traditional takes or its 2017 context, the album delivers on talent and soul -- with gusto.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/14/2017
Label: Masterworks
UPC: 0889854056223
catalogNumber: 540562
Rank: 10460

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Billy Porter   Primary Artist,Vocals
Donald Hayes   Horn,Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Woodwind,Soloist
Deborah Cox   Vocals
Joshua Henry   Vocals
Capathia Jenkins   Background Vocals
John Sneider   Trumpet
India.Arie   Vocals
Renée Elise Goldsberry   Vocals
James Sampliner   Piano,Keyboards
Patina Miller   Vocals
Brandon Victor Dixon   Vocals
Leslie Odom   Vocals
Christopher Jackson   Vocals
Christian Almiron   Bass,Piano,Keyboards
Mykal Kilgore   Background Vocals
Pentatonix   Vocals
Jamell Richardson   Guitar
Michael Sandlofer   Bass,Guitar,Percussion,Strings,Drums,Horn,Keyboards,Synthesizer Bass
Cynthia Erivo   Vocals
Amber Iman   Background Vocals
Todrick Hall   Vocals
Zaire Park   Vocals

Technical Credits

Richard Rodgers   Composer
Oscar Hammerstein   Composer
Lorenz Hart   Composer
Donald Hayes   Horn Arrangements
Billy Porter   Arranger,Producer,Liner Notes,Executive Producer
Michael McElroy   Arranger
John Sneider   Horn Arrangements
Michelle Holme   Art Direction
James Sampliner   Arranger,Producer
Christian Almiron   Producer
Michael Sandlofer   Arranger,Producer,Executive Producer
Seneca "Purple Chrome"   Engineer
Kevin "Doctor Sound" Fazio   Engineer
Suzi Dietz   Executive Producer

Customer Reviews