Leslie Odom Jr. - Create & Innovate
Leslie Odom, Jr. is a multifaceted Tony and Grammy Award-winning performer - spanning Broadway, television, film and music. Leslie has an array of projects on the forefront, including reimagined classics and originals on The Christmas Album, and collaborations with Sia.
What has been the most impactful lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Before you quit, ask yourself if you’ve really tried everything. Holding on. Persevering is half the battle.
Who/what has influenced your tenacious drive for success?
I think it was instilled in me as a boy in some way. I resented being controlled. When I was finally given the reins once I entered adulthood, when I got ahold of my autonomy, I took responsibility for my own happiness and fulfillment. That is my success--the only success that matters anyway.
Tell us about your new music with Sia. What was that creative process like for your song together, “Cold”?
I got to work with Sia on her debut full length feature film (out next year) called Music. I met her producing partner Jesse Shatkin on that project as well. When Sia heard my latest album she left word for me that she loved the song. I asked her in a joking way if she would ever consider jumping on a remix of the song. To my surprise and great delight she said yes!
What inspired you to reimagine holiday classics on The Christmas Album?
I had no plans to record a Christmas album this year but as quarantine went on I was very eager to be creative again. We got our covid tests and got back in the studio as soon as we were able. I was imagining what people might be in need of at the end of such a strange and tumultuous year. I wanted to make an album that might feel like a gift to anyone who listens around the holidays.
How has the experience of putting an album out during this time differed from your past records?
As creatives, we have to create and innovate out of a circumstance that isn’t ideal. There potentially won’t be any live performances associated with this release. That’s weird. Temporary! But weird. And unique to this project.
Can you tell us a little more about the two original songs, “Snow” and “Heaven & Earth”?
We wanted “Snow” to feel joyful. Full of joy! Musically, we wanted it to feel classic. Christmas is about tradition. If people connect to the music, they will hopefully pull the album down from the proverbial shelf and enjoy it each year with their families. We wanted to record and produce music that would age well! “Heaven & Earth” is the most personal on the record. Was thinking about the kinship between every new dad and Joseph. We’re all our own version of Joseph in that barn while we bear witness to women giving birth. There’s nothing more humbling than being witness to a miracle.
As a musician, what is it like to take on the role of “The King of Soul”, Sam Cooke, in the upcoming movie One Night in Miami?
Professionally, nothing has terrified me more. I was scared every single day of shooting. But there were moments of real exhilaration too. There were moments when I felt like I’d found my way into the same flow of the same stream. There were moments when it felt like—as a company of artists—we were getting it right. It felt from time to time like we might in some way be making them proud or doing them justice. We lived for those moments.
What other upcoming projects can you tell us about?
The Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark will be out early next year. Very excited to see how that has come together. Very different type of role for me in that.