The Qu’s mission is to feature queer artist working hard within their respective artistic genres and we couldn’t be happier to have Tony Award winning actor, singer Levi Kreis to add to our list! Check out the exQUsive interview below!
The Qu: Tell us a little about your past. Where you are from, what got you started with performance etc…?
LK: I’m originally from East Tennessee: small town with a graduating class of five people. Cut my teeth on gospel music. I remember the first record I ever heard was a Mahalia Jackson record. My grandaddy played it all the time. Something about the soul and conviction of gospel music always struck me, and guided my instincts and the way I approach music today. Started singing around different churches every weekend by the time I was 12 years old, selling my first gospel CD when I was 15, and eventually, it was a given that this is where I belonged. I’m kinda lucky to say that I know nothing else but this.
The Qu: Your first album released in 2005, and you were actually a challenge on The Apprentice. What was that experience like?
LK: Man, it provided me with a humble 7 minutes of national exposure that I totally capitalized on by taking the $200 bucks in my pocket and making sure I had a piano/vocal product upon air date. Somehow, people found me after that episode and a scrappy indie career was born. LOL. It was a much needed nudge. But I also really hustled to make the most of that opportunity, and expound upon it. I think it’s so important for artists to always be ready for the the slightest open door.
The Qu: You pretty much blew up following that appearance…how did life change for you after that?
LK: The one thing to blow up was my own perception of what is possible when we stop bitching and get determined. I had just left Atlantic records and thought it was the end of things for me. I had this archaic idea that success wasn’t possible w/out a record label. I dunno, something inside of me just wanted to test the waters, try to make good with this fleeting moment of exposure. Seeing units move, tv licensing, and some radio play, all made me believe in something I had not considered before.
The Qu: Your acting resume is pretty extensive, from RENT to playing opposite Matthew McConaughey. But you won a Tony for Million Dollar Quartet. Tell us about the evolution of MDQ from its start in Chicago to its move to Broadway?
LK: That show began much earlier than Chicago for me. I started workshopping that show in L.A. back in, I think, 2004. It was really just a secure job for me in the beginning, but I loved the people I was working with. That kept me coming back. We put it up in Seattle, then made the “official opening” in Chicago. When I heard that this endearing little hillbilly skit was going to Broadway, I just couldn’t believe it. It was a ride I definitely had not anticipated, but what an incredible blessing.
The Qu: Who has been a constant inspiration in your life?
LK: My grandaddy. I know no other man that is more steadfast and committed to living a faithful, joyful life. Loyalty, laughter, and a daily focus on physical, mental, AND spiritual health: he’s the definition of a real man to me.
The Qu: You recently wrote a song that focuses on equality, can you tell us about that?
LK: It’s a theme I’ve had in many of my songs, starting with “Stained Glass Window”, the theme for Del Shores award winning play “Southern Baptist Sissies.” A lot of the new material I’m currently writing focuses on equality and celebrating the perfection of our differences. It’s a very deliberate theme to the album that will be coming out later this year. I’ve always thought the fear of what is unfamiliar to us creates the confusion, judgement, and hatred that plagues our society. Look at nature. Life doesn’t know how to repeat itself, yet all of creation, while it extends from one intelligent source, is always uniquely different. It’s funny how it’s taken us so long to see this. Too often we would rather fight what is foreign to us. It’s just a lack of education. We fear what we don’t know.
The Qu: The queer community made news a lot in 2011, what do you think the future holds for the fight for equality?
LK: Good question. Ya know, not to wax philosophical, but I think that life has a way of correcting it’s own imbalances. It’s really a question of whether we want to see change from more devastation or through an expansion of education. Obvious the latter is what we all want, and in order to continue educating our world about the power of our differences, we have to speak up. We can’t afford to get comfortable simply because some of us living in urban areas can live a peaceful life with our partner and not be persecuted for it. Until we are equal in the eyes of the government, we still have much to say. I think change is happening faster, and I choose to believe we will see monumental shifts in the next 5 years.
The Qu: Tell us a little about your new album coming out in 2012?
LK: That…you’ll have to wait for. I will say that I’m having more fun than I’ve ever had in all my days of music-making.
The Qu: What is next for the fantastic Levi Kreis?
LK: Completing the next album, and perhaps taking on a couple more acting roles while set-up for the new album begins. It is nice to have winter in the Cali sun.
The Qu: Thank you again so much for taking the time. We appreciate that you took time out of your busy schedule to speak with us!
LK: A pleasure! Never hesitate to invite me back, and much success in your endeavors. We’ll be getting the word out.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Interview with The Qu: Levi Kreis « In Our Words | January 16, 2012