Tony and Grammy Award Winner Sings in The Colors of Christmas
Jennifer Holliday first rose to stardom in 1981 when she originated the role of Effie White in the Broadway production of Dreamgirls, for which she won a Tony Award and a Grammy Award. Ever since her debut over three decades ago, she has delighted millions of fans all over the world with her heartfelt vocals and undeniable charm.
She forged close ties with the gay community in a time when it could have sank her rising career; if anything, the gay community supported her long after her initial mainstream success faded. “You don’t have to [always] have a hit record to be loved by the gay community,” Jennifer Holliday told Hotspots in a recent interview. “They helped me carry my legacy into the new millennium. The gay community is very faithful and loyal — there were years where the only work I had came from the gay community. They kept me from becoming destitute.”
A lot of exciting things happened in Jennifer Holliday’s life this year. First, she released her first pop album in over 20 years, called The Song is You, which was very well-received. Second, she was invited to perform with Peabo Bryson on his special holiday tour The Colors of Christmas. She is no stranger to this tour; she performed with Bryson three years ago. Joining her on the road this year are Taylor Dayne and former American Idol winner Ruben Studdard. “I haven’t worked with Taylor Dayne before, so I really wanted to meet her and work with her. That added a little extra excitement for me as I was looking forward to this trip,” Holliday told us.
You can see Peabo Bryson, Jennifer Holliday, Taylor Dayne and Ruben Studdard in The Colors of Christmas, a show that mixes your favorite holiday songs with pop standards you know and love. “You’re going to hear what our fans are already familiar with, the hits that we’ve had in our careers, and then there will be holiday songs, and of course duet match-ups between us artists,” Holliday explained.
The Colors of Christmas starts its nationwide tour right here in Florida, at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach on Saturday, December 6 at 8 p.m. The group moves on to perform at the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce on Sunday, December 7 at 7 p.m., the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, December 9 at 7:30 p.m., the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota on Wednesday, December 10 at 8 p.m., and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami on Thursday, December 11 at 8 p.m.
Jennifer Holliday is happy to hear that people still hold such great memories of Dreamgirls in their hearts. When asked a question about whether she still keeps in touch with her former castmates Sheryl Lee Ralph and Loretta Devine, Jennifer answered in the affirmative. “I see Sheryl Lee Ralph a lot because she travels, so I run into her on the road quite a bit. I keep in contact with Loretta Devine but she mostly does movies and television nowadays, so she’s based primarily in Los Angeles,” Holliday, who is based in Atlanta, told us. “I always keep in touch with these ladies.”
Jennifer Holliday has won two Grammys and a Tony in her career. What many people are wondering, we wager, is what it feels like to win these awards. When asked about winning two of those three coveted awards for Dreamgirls, she described the experiences: “When I won the Tony Award, I was only 21 years old. It was the first award I had ever gotten. At that time I had only done one play prior to Dreamgirls. It was a wonderful experience to even be nominated, much less to win,” she told us. “Then the following year, I won the Grammy Award. I was in an amazing category, nominated with Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross. I just kept thinking, ‘There’s no way I could win.’ And I did! It felt amazing.”
Her most recent album is called The Song is You, and it’s the first time she has released a pop album since 1991. “It consists of love songs, jazz standards, and classic hits. They were songs that I always wanted to sing,” she said. Her big hope for next year is that the album gets more promotion, as she didn’t get the chance to do much of that this year. “I have a lot of new fans now and they’ve helped me become relevant again. I thought it was a good time [to release this album].”
You can see Jennifer Holliday live in The Colors of Christmas! Tickets are on sale now and can be bought online or through the venues’ box offices. Prices start at $25 (West Palm Beach), $55 (Fort Pierce), $49.50 (St. Petersburg), $35 (Sarasota), and $39 (Miami).