Entertainment | Billy Porter re-embraces his music career as the Black Mona Lisa

His fundamental origins lie in being an LGBTQ activist and an award-winning actor and singer. He is currently making a comeback with the highly anticipated Volume Tour, starring in the iconic role of Billy Porter in Lisa Mona Black’s rendition of The Porter’s But.

One of my biggest dreams as a child was to be the male Whitney Houston, selling out stadiums, selling millions of records, and making a name for myself in the music industry. In 1987, when Porter released his self-titled debut album, it was a groundbreaking moment for the arts world. However, it is needless to say that the business was very homophobic at the time. Porter, now 53, recalls that he faced a lot of discrimination and bigotry.

Porter, a native of Pittsburgh, studied drama and Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University. He went on to start his career on Broadway, winning a Tony and Drama Desk Award for his lead role as Lola in “Kinky Boots” in 2013. Porter also shared a Grammy and a TV award for his work as a co-producer on the provocative musical “The Strange Loop” in 2019, as well as appearing in acclaimed TV shows like “Pose” and “American Horror Story: Apocalypse.” In addition to his acting career, Porter made his directorial debut last year with the film “Anything’s Possible.”

In the meantime, Porter’s innovative and daring fashion sense has attracted attention on the red carpet at numerous events, such as awards shows and the Met Gala.

Porter, who released a highly successful autobiography called “Unprotected” in 2021, elucidates, “For the initial quarter-century of my existence, my primary endeavor was to earn the recognition and acknowledgment of the industry’s gatekeepers. However, thanks to the fortunate circumstances of my life and profession, I am now presented with a fresh opportunity involving music, and this time, I have complete control over it. It feels as though my existence has been acknowledged and validated! I engage in writing, directing, producing… I possess the ability to sing and act. At present, I possess a multitude of roles and responsibilities, don’t you think?”

“Now I simply have the opportunity to embrace my authentic, LGBTQ+, and vibrant self, and it’s enchanting.”

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    Porter describes both the Black Mona Lisa Tour and his upcoming fifth album of the same title as his "magnum opus." (Photo courtesy of Republic Records)
    Porter describes both the Black Mona Lisa Tour and his upcoming fifth album of the same title as his “magnum opus.” (Photo courtesy of Republic Records)

    I want to do what I came from and where it is that’s why I strive. That’s what I speak to the truth of Mona Lisa, who is forever and speaks about love metaphorically. I have worked with amazing songwriters and want to say everything about what I love. It’s an eclectic album, based in contemporary music, dance, and R&B. The rest of the album is already out and he describes it as his “opus magnum,” the same title as his upcoming fifth album and the Lisa Mona Black Tour, both described by Porter.

    The 2020 National Democratic Convention featured a performance by Stephen Porter, a songwriter from Stills Worth. During the performance, Porter sang a protest song called “It’s What For” along with covers of songs by Buffalo Springfield, Gloria Gaynor, Kelly Clarkson, and Earth, Wind & Fire. The show also included a medley of Porter’s own songs, including “Kinky Boots.” Alongside these nods to Porter’s career, there was plenty of new material featured in the show.

    He clarifies that the album and tour he is currently working on align with the Black Mona Lisa framework. Additionally, he will be portraying James Baldwin in an upcoming biopic set to be released this year. Furthermore, he is also starring in the drama “Our Son.” Although Porter has future film acting projects in the works, his primary focus remains on his music.

    Porter clarifies, “the name ‘something’ will always be present in my life, regardless of what I pursue. It may be related to music at this particular moment, but it could also be associated with makeup, shoes, or clothing. It encompasses branding and is not limited to just music. Currently, I am focused on ‘the Volume,’ and Mona Lisa represents a brand.”

    Detroit’s Fisher Theatre, located at 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Will host The Black Mona Lisa Tour Volume 1, presented by Billy Porter, on Thursday, May 18th at 8 p.M. To purchase tickets, please call 313-872-1000 or visit broadwayindetroit.Com.