Regarded as two of the hottest performers in soul music, GRAMMY-nominated Mykal Kilgore electrified the audience with his powerful multi-octave voice when he opened for India.Arie on CCA's main stage in 2019, while GRAMMY-nominated percussionist, singer, and drummer Jamison Ross thoroughly delighted attendees in his virtual performance last December. Kilgore and Ross have joined forces for a night of dazzling jazz, gospel, soul and blues for a special one night performance at Chandler Center for the Arts in October.

We caught up with the delightful, melodic Mykal Kilgore.

Wow, you have a beautiful voice. When did you discover your musical ability?

I grew up singing in church, but I think it was when I was in kindergarten. We were doing a program for graduation maybe and I was asked to sing “Wind Beneath My Wings”! Being up in front of people and having them enjoy my performance sealed the deal for me. 

Who were your influences and are there any mentors or role models — shout out to Billy Porter?

My Aunt Mel is maybe my biggest influence. She’s not a musician, but she is an incredible human. I’m lucky enough to have Billy Porter as my mentor and friend… he’s a huge source of inspiration. I’ve always loved gospel so Daryl Coley, The Clark Sisters, Beverly Crawford, and Vanessa Bell Armstrong are huge influences. But I do tell people that I went to the India Arie school of songwriting… with a sprinkling of Sondheim and Babyface! 

What is the inspiration behind your single "The Man in the Barbershop"? 

Seeing someone beautiful enough that they make you fantasize. It’s an unfulfilled desire, but sometimes just the freedom to desire is enough. 

The pandemic was very hard on musicians, performers, and touring artists. What have you been doing during this time? Challenges, discoveries, philosophy about this strange time for the human species?

This global pause has been really interesting. Lots of good has come out of all of this “bad.” Now that we are in this second phase of life post the beginning of the pandemic, I think a lot about the promises that I made to myself in the thick of the isolation period. The newest challenge is keeping my word to myself. Making sure that I continue my self-care practices and that I stay passionate about equality. 

What does singing in front of a live audience mean to you? Can you describe the power of connection through music? 

It is what I’m on this Earth to do! Even if it isn’t singing I truly believe that my super power is communicating. When I allow myself to be a vessel I’m powerful as hell. It’s a blessing to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what you bring to the world. Singing is my way to communicate at this level, so it’s precious to me. 

How many times have you been to Arizona and please tell us about the show you are doing with Jamison Ross. What will be in your set list?

I have only performed in Arizona a couple of times so I’m excited to be back so that I can get the flavor of the people on me! Jamison and I are friends from way back in our college days so we are ready to have a funky, good time with you all. I’ll be singing songs from my debut album, A MAN BORN BLACK, as well as a glimpse into the future of my artistry. I don’t wanna give too much away. 

Being gay and Black in America: please share your perspective on the past few very turbulent years.

Being Black in America has always been a struggle. I think that the most uncomfortable part of the last few years has been watching the white people in my life awaken to truths that most of my Black circle have been aware of since childhood. I will say that the thing that has given hope is that, at least in my friend circle, I haven’t had to play teacher or emotional helper as they have been learning. They have taken this time very seriously and are doing the work of dismantling white supremacy in their minds first, and second they are unashamedly sharing that message with their friends. I’m seeing queerness become less taboo, I’m seeing the respect for trans lives grow, we have a long way to go, but I see the steps. 

Follow @mykalkilgore and visit mykalkilgore.com

AN EVENING WITH MYKAL KILGORE & JAMISON ROSS
Sunday, October 10, 2021 at 7 PM$36, $46, $56, VIP $150

Photo courtesy of The Dinah

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