Leslie Odom Jr., known for his roles in Broadway’s Rent and Hamilton, visited the Tennessee Theatre Monday, Oct. 9, to perform for the Knoxville community and UT students.
Odom Jr., with his accompanying band, preformed a variety of songs such as “Dear Theodosia” from Hamilton, “Without You” from Rent and “Autumn Leaves” from his self-titled album.
During his time on stage, Odom Jr. not only sang for the captivated audience, but he shared some of his experiences as a young adult moving to Los Angeles to pursue his dream and his journey to Broadway. He began in Rent at 16-years-old and told the audience that he would not be where he is today without that experience.
Hannah Leeds, a senior at UTK, described what she enjoyed most about the performance.
“I think it was also special how he didn’t just sing and did talk. I am also a Hamilton fan but I also really enjoyed watching the pianist. I am also a piano player and I love watching the other musicians get in their element,” she said.
Following his performance, Odom Jr. held a Q&A session. During this session, he shared playing Aaron Burr in Hamilton was the role of a lifetime. He said it was his dream role to play because of the depth of the character.
He got his start with Hamilton after he tweeted to Lin Manuel Miranda and attended a smaller gathering for the Hamilton Mixtape. After seeing the diversity in the show at the time, Odom Jr. was hooked and joined the cast.
After the take-off of Hamilton, Odom Jr. said he had many people in the entertainment industry asking him, “What do you want to do kid?” He jokingly answered, “I want to play Tennessee!”
While he may have been joking about that, he did decide he wanted to pursue his own music and tour. He refers to the type of music he creates as being inspired by Nat King Cole and he even preformed a medley of Cole’s songs.
Odom Jr. hopes that people remember him as being a kind and positive person which both seem to be important to him.
Odom Jr. gave advice for aspiring artists.
“You don’t wait for anybody to give you permission to practice your art,” Odom Jr. said.
He advises everyone no matter their interest to not wait for an opportunity and to seek it out themselves.
For more information on Odom Jr. and future tour dates, visit his website.
Edited by Kaitlin Flippo
Featured Image by Ainsley Kelso