On Thursday, June 14, 2018, Grammy, Emmy and six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald joins the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a special, one-night only performance that already have Charm City residents rushing to the box office for tickets.
McDonald has starred in a host of Broadway shows like “A Raising in the Sun,” “Ragtime,” “Porgy and Bess,” and she gave a stunning performance of Billie Holiday that HBO eventually adapted for television.
The only performer to win a Tony in each acting category, McDonald told The Baltimore Times that she’ll perform some all-time favorites during the upcoming concert, including those from Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bernstein and others.
“I have played Baltimore before with my own trio and I have family that used to live in the area,” McDonald said. “So, when I was younger, I spent a lot of time there.”
McDonald also spent time filming the Baltimore-located hit television show, “Homicide Life on the Streets,” in the 1990s.
“We went to the Inner Harbor and filmed throughout the city,” McDonald said.
Recalling her time portraying Baltimore’s own Billie Holiday in the Broadway play, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” McDonald says it was a role she relished.
“It was an honor to portray her. She was an incredible woman and I don’t think of her as just a victim because that’s selling her short,” McDonald said. “She endured much and was hounded much of her life by men and the FBI— a great artist with a great heart.”
Born into a musical family, McDonald grew up in Fresno, California. She received her classical vocal training at the Juilliard School.
A year after she graduated, she won her first Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for Carousel at Lincoln Center Theater.
McDonald made her opera debut in 2006 at Houston Grand Opera, where she starred in a double bill: the monodrama La voix humaine by Francis Poulenc and the world premiere of Send by Michael John LaChiusa, according to her biography. She made her Los Angeles Opera debut in 2007 starring alongside Patti LuPone in John Doyle’s production of Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahogany. The resulting recording won McDonald two Grammy Awards, for Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Album.
On the concert stage, McDonald has premiered music by Pulitzer Prize- winning composer John Adams and sung with virtually every major American orchestra – including the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony.
She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1998 with the San Francisco Symphony under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas in a season-opening concert that was broadcast live on PBS. Internationally, she has sung at the BBC Proms in London – only the second American in more than 100 years invited to appear as a guest soloist at the Last Night of the Proms – and at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, as well as with the London Symphony Orchestra and Berlin Philharmonic.
On May 1, McDonald recorded the new album, “Sing Happy,” her first live solo recording and her first solo disc to feature a full orchestra.
“It’s something we did at Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic and we recorded it live,” McDonald said. “We started to reach back to the great composers of the 40s, 50s and 60s, and it was me tackling old songs that I’ve always loved to sing.”
Recording with the New York Philharmonic was a great moment for McDonald. “It’s the best orchestra in the world,” she said. “There was pressure, but incredible comfort. It was like having the greatest football team behind you when you’re trying to be a quarterback for the first time. It was having the best of the best.”
For tickets and more information about her upcoming concert, visit: www.bsomusic.org.