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Songs For A New World Demo with Billy Porter Released

Take a moment to think about the time you first fell in love with this art.
For some, it was the 90’s cult classic Songs For A New World, a series of songs connected by the theme: Billy Porter headshot“making a decision.” More specifically, Tony Award winner Billy Porter‘s character in the production gave hope to many Black men, instilling confidence that a voice like theirs can be heard on Broadway. He is the reason some fell in love with this art. Before he was Lola in Kinky Boots, Billy Porter was Man 1. And now, 20 years later, his voice can be heard on the original demo for the opening number.
Porterknown for skillfully marrying the likes of soul and belt, was part of this special project from the beginning. Porter was unable to record the Songs for a New World cast album because of contractual obligations and was replaced by Ty Taylor. For the first time, Brown has released the original demo for the opening number from the show that features Billy Porter along with Andrea Burns and Brian d’Arcy James.
Deservedly so, Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist, Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges of Madison County) is celebrating 20 years of transforming many into lovers of this beautiful art we call musical theatre. 20 years ago, Songs for A New World opened off-Broadway. Brown released a note on his blog talking about Songs for a New World, the relationships he made from the show and how they’ve transformed over the 20 years.

Twenty years is a long time, and it feels like it, actually. I saw Andréa, Brooks, Billy and Jessica just four days ago at a reading of Prince of Broadway and we are all profoundly different than we were back then, and yet we are still connected, bound by this marvelous mad adventure we had. Songs for a New World was my first professional show. And it was glorious.

Listen to the demo below. To see Brown’s full note click here.

“I’ve posted (for the first time) the original demo recording of the opening sequence of the show – all twelve minutes of it! – featuring four amazing singers who did so much to shape the sound of the show. Andréa Burns and I had known each other since summer camp in the 80s, and Billy Porter sang during my shifts in the piano bar at Don’t Tell Mama when he would finish his performances in Miss Saigon” – Jason Robert Brown

Here’s a bonus recording. 3 years ago Jason Robert Brown released a demo of Billy Porter Singing “The Steam Train”

“Billy is one of the greatest singers in the world; I say that with no hyperbole intended. From the first time I heard him (when he came into Don’t Tell Mama’s on a night I was working the piano bar), I knew that he was a rare and magnificent creature, a phenomenal musical imagination couple with an extraordinary instrument. And he is a formidable actor as well, intensely emotional and committed and funny and just generally wonderful. What’s he is not, however, is a basketball player from the projects. The staging originally included some rudimentary dribbling and shooting – that was cut very quickly. When we handed Billy the basketball in rehearsal, he held it like it was a wet schnauzer.

But, for all of its ludicrousness, I can’t help loving it. Here’s my fake “street” song about a sport I never watch sung by someone who looked as much like Michael Jordan as I look like Chris Hemsworth. And all of that notwithstanding, I still think it’s awesome.”

Listen to The Steam Train below. Read the entire backstory here 

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