Buffalo’s Own Eric Jordan Young Brings His Amazing One-Man Show to Buffalo!
On April 30, Eric Jordan Young returns home togive his first performance in Western New York since “Sammy and Me,” as he makes his Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra debut with “Celebrating Sammy” in Kleinhan’s Music Hall at 8 p.m.
As a child growing up in Buffalo, Ericremembers the feelings he had watching his favorite entertainers on television. “I was drawn to their energy and dynamism. I remember watching all of them, along with the Jackson 5, Carol Burnett and Benny Hill. I was always happy when I saw them and wanted to give other people the same feeling,” he says.
Young started early. He sang in church, in school, and in the Buffalo Arts & Music Youth Chorale under David Hilliard. He performed at Artpark with the Upstage Theater Company and recorded a public service announcement for PBS.
Like any young artist, Young continually drew inspiration from his role models. Above all others, Young admired Sammy Davis Jr. As he grew up, graduated from Ithaca College, and went on to a successful career performing on Broadway, in Las Vegas, and in national touring shows, his admiration only grew. In 2006, he performed the world premiere of his one-man show, “Sammy and Me,” at MusicalFare Theatre. The show is a deeply honest tribute, lifting up the legacy of Sammy Davis Jr. while grappling with the racism that dogged his career.
“I grew up as an African-American person living in predominantly White areas. In the show, I play Sammy, plus over 20 other characters. I basically parallel his life with mine. It’s told as a coming-of-age story, about the relationship that I -- as an artist -- have had with Sammy Davis Jr. and how he inspired me,” Young told The Buffalo News at the time.
Young also rekindles the singer’s songbook legacy. A legacy that has been largely forgotten in the 20 years since the singer’s death. “I feel a responsibility to help get this material back out there,” Young explained during an interview a few years ago. “Yes, Sammy was man of his time. But he was also a pioneer and somebody has to stand up for him. When I can get the audience to just fly with me on any given night in this show, I know Sammy is up there, working right along side me.”
The show earned sterling reviews and went on to success at the National Black Theater Festival and at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. It received an Artie that year, and also the Syracuse Area Live Theater Award.
Young has been busy since that time. His solo album, “Once in a Lifetime,” was released in 2010. In 2012, he joined the cast of “Vegas – The Show!” and performed nightly at Las Vegas’ Saxe Theatre. He’s performed in “Chicago” on Broadway alongside such household names as Bebe Neuwirth and George Hamilton, and appeared in a Lincoln Center revival of “Ragtime.”
“Celebrating Sammy,” is part of the Bank of America Pops Series. Tickets to the show are available at bpo.org or by calling (716) 885-5000.