Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy-winning actor and singer Billy Porter explains the meaning of his album Black Mona Lisa, the important themes his album tackles, why he wants to tell Billy Strayhorn’s story on stage, how he uses fashion as a way to express himself and more.
Billy Porter:I stayed in it. I did it anyway. Whatever the “it” is right. So I get to come back now. And all of this is on my own terms. Hey, everybody, this is Billy Porter, and you are watching Billboard News.
Tetris Kelly:Hey, it’s Tetris with Billboard News, and look who I have here! Mr. Billy Porter. Hi.
Billy Porter:Hi, how are you?
Tetris Kelly:You got a lot to talk about your magnum opus. You released this album Black Mona Lisa.
Tetris Kelly:Why did you refer to it as that and how was this project different?
Billy Porter:You know, we were writing. I was in the writing process with Justin Tranter and his team, and you know, we probably ’bout six, eight months into the process — we had written a bunch of other stuff, and the themes and the tone were forming. I don’t remember where “Black Mona Lisa” came from, I just kind of say, it kind of fell out of the sky. And everybody in the room was like …
Tetris Kelly:That works.
Billy Porter:Did that just happen? Like there was like a, you know, like, time stood still for about a good 20 seconds, and then like, maybe even 30. And then 20 minutes later, the song was written. It’s referencing the original Mona Lisa. And that painting is relevant, always — past, present and future. And that’s my goal with my legacy.
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