I’m always inspired by talent, especially young talent. These are the two most inspiring people I’ve seen this year, so far.
You need to know about both of them.
Do know Brandon Victor Dixon?
You don’t? (That’s okay, I didn’t either.)
He’s the immensely talented gentleman who portrayed Judas in the recent television adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Here he is ;
You are welcome.
Recently, Brandon was interviewed on Sirrus radio’s Broadway Musical station. I was lucky enough to hear the interview.
What a professional!
Brandon is a Presidential Scholar Semi-finalist and scholarship winner at the British Academy of Dramatic Acting in Oxford, Brandon is a graduate of Columbia University and a recipient of the University’s I.A.L Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts which is an honor he shares with Tony Kushner (Angels in America), Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change, and Katori Hall (Mountaintop).
Since his professional debut, originating the role of Adult Simba in The Lion King National Tour (Cheetah), Brandon has displayed his diverse abilities in a number of roles. Notably, he was nominated for a Tony Award for his role as Harpo in Broadway’s The Color Purple, a Grammy for his portrayal of Berry Gordy in Motown The Musical, and he was nominated for Oliviers, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, and AUDELCO awards for his outstanding portrayal of Haywood Patterson in Kander and Ebb’s The Scottsboro Boys.
I know talent folks. Honestly I can nearly smell it upon meeting someone.
This fellow is tremendously talented and what’s more he’s a good person.
He’s involved in the #Weare campaign, raising funds for the YoungNew Yorker program.
From Brandon’s website :
“All sales from our first release, #WeAre, benefit youngnewyorkers.org, an organization that aims to help rehabilitate juvenile first time offenders in their teens who are sentenced to their ARTS program instead of JAIL.
The #WeAre campaign is a global call to action for all communities to support the recognition of our collective power and repsonsibility. This is the first project on my new platform designed to empower Art, Artists, and their Advocacy through musical collaboration.
As Brandon explained it (I’m paraphrasing here) instead of sending our young people straight to prison for their first offense, perhaps there are better methods of helping them. To Brandon, and to me, the arts are the way to reach our youth and help them grow into the adults they are meant to be and become contributing members of society.
I love programs such as these. They make sense to me. Everyone needs a second chance, especially a young person. Instead of filling up yet another prison why not find another way to work with troubled youth?
For more information about Brandon, check out his website at http://brandonvictordixon.com/home
Here’s another young man you may not know, but I think you are going to soon.
His name is Mobley.
Last Friday evening, we went to see a show in Kansas City by our friend, Kelley Wade Hunt and Mobley played first.
Oh my gosh! Wait until you hear him:
Or this one:
You have to picture this show. Our friend, Kelley, is a veteran rhythm and blues singer. Not surprisingly, many of the attendees are our age too.
However, first Mobley comes on the stage. His music is not what you’d think some of us “elderstatesmen” would enjoy. But within a few minutes he had us singing along with him, clapping and having fun! (You understand Mobley couldn’t be much more than thirty years old?) It was awesome.
Furthermore, Mobley is a one man band. He plays several instruments, writes music, sings and even created the video in the background. Very impressive.
Afterwards, we stopped so say hi and compliment him on his music. My husband is a retired instrumental music teacher who taught music theory for many years. It was wonderful to watch Mobley and my husband converse about music just like two old friends.
From the Austin Monthly, “Band to Watch” interview:
“Mobley, whose real name is Anthony Watkins II, credits recent news events, particularly the Eric Garner grand jury decision, as the inspiration for deeper, more introspective songwriting. “About halfway through working on the record, the decision came back, and that was just devastating on multiple levels,” he says. “But it brought lots of things into a different focus, and it gave the work a moral center, and everything made sense after that.” That moral center is cleverly encased in layers of bright, thudding electronic flourishes and R&B-style vocals, as evidenced in the single “Swoon.”
His live show has a similar upbeat energy to it. He uses his film degree from the University of North Carolina and day job as a web designer to great effect, incorporating visuals, lighting and videos, in addition to toggling between playing the guitar, keyboard and an Akai drum machine. Being too cool for school onstage isn’t interesting to him. “I find it most compelling when performers seem like they believe what they’re doing and care about me believing what they’re doing,” he says.
See what I mean?
Like Brandon, Mobley is a terrific fellow, too.
As I have said before, I don’t always blog about drama education, or my book, sometimes I blog about unusual experiences in my life. Meeting Mobley was one of them. I suspect you will all see a lot of him very soon.
Watch for Brandon Victor Dixon, too.
I bet you can tell now why these are the two most inspiring people I’ve seen this year, so far.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org