By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | October 9, 2021
Mykal Kilgore is affable and cheery. The versatile performer known for stretching across musical genres is giddy about his return to the Chandler Center for the Arts on Sunday, October 10.
“The last time I was there, it was with India Arie,” he says. “I hate to sound corny, but it was magical. I actually cried at the end of the show.
“There was so much love in the room. At the end of her shows, she brings her support act out and we sing a little something together. The audience was screaming and applauding as I came out. I wasn’t prepared. I was so overwhelmed. I just started crying while India was holding my hand.”
Kilgore’s career spans from Broadway to Postmodern Jukebox with a resume filled with appearances in “Motown the Musical,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Hair,” “The Wiz Live!” and the viral video “Reclaiming My Time.” Kilgore was nominated for a Grammy in 2021 for his single “Let Me Go.”
“Some of the things I’ve experienced and achieved, my 12-year-old self would be doing cartwheels,” he says.
Kilgore was raised in Orlando and yearned to be in the “Mickey Mouse Club.”
“Orlando has such a storied history of entertainment down to an excellent level,” he says. “Living in LA, I have to be very careful not to go too crazy on my Orlando love.”
The COVID-19 pandemic taught Kilgore one thing: There’s nothing on the Earth like performing. He may do the same show each night, but the new audiences keep it fresh.
In mid-September, Kilgore released the surprise single “The Man in the Barbershop.” It tells the story of Kilgore seeing a beautiful man in the barbershop. Subsequently, he dreams about what their life could be like.
“It’s me being as adorable as Renee Zellweger in ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary,’” he says. “I want to take a swing at romantic lead in a rom-com.
“I want to show people that, even in a man’s soul and heart, there is softness and tenderness and fragility,” he says. “I want that to be on display. There is a power in your emotions. I want to be really clear that this music is about me. It’s about my Black life, my queer life, my American life — all those things come together to create it.
“I’m more than a jukebox to people. I’m a real human being who is allowing everyone in to see what goes on behind my curtain.”
At the Chandler Center for the Arts, Kilgore is performing with Jamison Ross, who blurs the lines between jazz, R&B, soul, gospel and blues. His debut album, “Jamison,” garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album. His sophomore effort, “All for One,” reveals, “We all have the capacity to love with empathy in a deeper way.”
“At the show, fans can expect a lot of great singing,” Kilgore says. “I feel like my theater experience has turned my concert mindset into a cabaret mindset. I like to give audiences a chance to get to know me better.
“I ask the people, whatever show they want, I will give it to them. I think audiences have to remember their responsibility, too. Come hyped to see the show. Don’t make me have to beg and plead for it.”
An Evening with Mykal Kilgore & Jamison Ross
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, October 10
Where: Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Avenue, Chandler
Cost: Tickets start at $36
Info: 480-782-2680, chandlercenter.org