DescriptionGenre: Pop Vocal
Artist/Group Name: Billy Porter
Release Date: 04/14/2017
Original Release Date: 2017
Length of CD: 50:55
Total Time: 50:55
1. Oh, What a Beautiful Morning
|2. My Romance|
|3. If I Loved You|
|4. With a Song in My Heart|
|5. I Have Dreamed|
|6. My Funny Valentine|
|7. I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair|
|8. This Nearly Was Mine|
|10. Carefully Taught|
|11. Lady Is a Tramp|
Audio Mixers: Michael Sandlofer; Bob Horn.
Liner Note Author: Billy Porter.
Recording information: Aaron Jacob Music Studios, Ocean Ridge, FL; Jungle City Studio, New York, NY.
Photographers: Jimmy Asnes; Ron Cadiz.
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., Ren?e 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. ~ Marcy Donelson
Recording Type: n/a