By Ricardo Hazell
Lance Reddick has been making a niche for himself as a character actor for well over 10 years. Fans of his were wowed by his performance in such great television programs as “The Wire” and “Lost.”
He’s currently garnering additional props on the Fox sci-fi thriller “Fringe.” Be that as it may, the former Baltimore native tells EURweb.com that he is actually a singer at heart. For real? No, for fake! Of course for real!
It would appear as though no one wants to stay in their own lanes these days, but the actor tells our Lee Bailey acting was actually an after thought.
“It’s funny. I’ve never thought of myself a singer, I’ve always thought of myself as a songwriter who sings,” he explained. “For me, the music is always first. To me, Aretha Franklin is a singer, Nat King Cole is a singer. I just happen to be someone with a nice voice.”
Reddick’s new set is a collection of jazz-leaning songs he has written over the years.
“For me, it’s all about the music,” continued Lance. “This project started out as a songwriting demo that kind of morphed into an album. First of all, I don’t know how much you know about me, but I was a musician first. Growing up I never dreamed I would be acting on television.”
Funny how things kind of zig when you really expected them to zag. Lance tells EUR he was really of the “zag” school of thought.
“I grew up playing piano and singing in the choir from the time I was 6 years old until the time I was 16,” Lance told us. “I grew up in Baltimore so I attended the preparatory department of the Peabody Conservatory in junior high school and high school. For college I went to Eastman School of Music (in Rochester, NY). I wanted to be a musician. I thought I was going to be a classical composer. My last years at Eastman I realized I was in denial and actually wanted to be a rock star.”
“So, I left music school, got married straight out of school and went to pursue that,” he continued. “After struggling for a couple of years I started acting really on a lark. It was kind of a desperate attempt to try to jump start my music career. I knew that I could act because I acted in college before. I said ‘I can act and I can sing so let me try that.’ I realized musical theater was not my thing and I started going on straight acting auditions and started getting cast in local theater. Eventually I applied to the drama school at Yale, again on a lark, not expecting to get in and I got in. I graduated from Yale in 1994.”
According to critics, Lance’s commanding voice and imposing on screen persona is what keeps getting those interesting roles in some of America’s favorite television shows. But Reddick tells us that the more roles he got the greater his urge to do music became.
“By the time I got on ‘The Wire’ I realized there was this piece of me that needed to be expressed. As an actor, unless you reach a particular level of stardom, you always feel like just a glorified employee. I really wanted to create something that I felt that I controlled. Started doing the songwriting demo, never intending for it to become an album. I just kept writing and starting writing excessively and listening to different kinds of music. I wrote more and more songs and thought ‘What the heck, I’ll just do it.'”
And “do it” is exactly what he did. He has a smooth, melodic voice that lends itself to jazz very well. And so naturally we asked Reddick why a jazz album?
“Growing up as a musician I was always awed by it, but I was scared of it. I always thought jazz musicians were in a special category. There were rock musicians, there were classical musicians, but the jazz musicians were the real cats. Those were the sorcerers. Growing up I was obsessed with Nat King Cole, I actually wanted to be him when I was 15 years old. I did become a little obsessed with Sting once I discovered him in the late 80s. He and Miles are my main musical influences. Sting because his first two albums were so heavily influenced by Miles, then going back and really exploring Miles was like opening a flood gate.”
Reddick’s offering is titled “Comtemplations and Rememberances” and is available on Amazon.com and nearly 100 other sites for download. You can listen to a sampling at Reddick’s Myspace page or at www.lancereddick.com.