Singer, actor, songwriter, playwright, director, and vocal coach Billy Porter is a throwback to the old-school entertainers who worked, literally, across a wide-stage platform, from theater and film to television and musicals. His Broadway-inspired delivery and soulful tone have landed him on the Billboard R&B charts and won him a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
Born September 21, 1969 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Porter laid the groundwork for his career with care, graduating from the musical theater program at the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School, then earning a B.F.A. in drama from the Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts, and finally tacking on certification from the screenwriting program at UCLA. He came to public attention in musicals on Broadway, first in 1994's revival of Grease, and following it with impressive turns in Songs for a New World, Smokey Joe's Cafe, and Miss Saigon, among other stage productions in the '90s. In the meantime, he appeared in films such as Twisted (1996) and the TV movie Shake, Rattle and Roll: An American Love Story (1999), where he played Little Richard. As a recording artist, he released the self-titled Billy Porter (aka Untitled) in 1997. Two singles from the debut appeared on the Billboard R&B songs chart.
Porter continued to win roles in films, on stage, and on television such as Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in the new millennium. Amidst his acting work, he released the live album At the Corner of Broadway + Soul with Sh-K-Boom Records in 2005. He stayed busy on Broadway and Off-Broadway with shows including but not limited to Little Shop of Horrors and Angels in America in the 2010s, leading up to his role as Lola in Kinky Boots, which earned him a 2013 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He appears on the show's original Broadway cast recording. The album Billy's Back on Broadway followed in the spring of 2014 via Concord Records, and his next album took on the works of musical theater legend Richard Rodgers with guests including India.Arie, Pentatonix, and Leslie Odom, Jr. Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers was released by Sony Masterworks in the spring of 2017. ~ Steve Leggett & Marcy Donelson