(Photo credit: Dirty Sugar Photography)
(Hair/Make-up credit: Camille Thompson)
Having graced stages in countries such as Germany, Japan, France, Turkey and The Bahamas, actress and singer Patrice Covington has literally been around the world while fulfilling her wildest dreams.
The Chesapeake, Virginia, native has been seen internationally belting tunes with all-star Broadway casts of such smash hit shows as The Book Of Mormon, Dreamgirls, and Ain’t Misbehavin’, in which she performed alongside “American Idol’s” Ruben Studdard. In 2012, Covington had the pleasure of taking part in Switzerland’s renowned SEAT Music Festival where she toured for six weeks performing her original music and was the only American artist featured.
In addition to her many stage credits, Covington can also add recording artist to her résumé as she released a Chaz Shepherd produced EP in October of 2011. Like any true R&B and soul singer, she draws her style and music from real-life experiences, both good and bad. There’s an honesty that comes through her pure and melodic voice. Her music is also featured on the web-series Tony Clomax’s 12 Steps to Recovery and on the theme song to Robert Hartwell’s Broadway show, Quick Change.
Currently, Covington can be seen in various roles in the hit show Motown The Musical, which is finishing up its run at Chicago’s Ford Oriental Theatre.
How did you get your start in music and theater?
Like many vocalists, I began singing as a child in church. However, it was my participation in community theater, dance, and musicals as well as my attendance of a performing arts high school in Virginia that truly cultivated my ambition and passion.
Was there an “aha” moment when you knew for sure that this is what you wanted to do?
Yes. I was working at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Yes, the theme park [laughs]. In the hot sweltering heat, nonetheless. Singing and dancing in capezio tights even! I made such great friends there one summer. When the season was over and it was time for me to go back to school, all my friends were going back home to NYC to knock out auditions and try to book a big show. I was anxious and envious because the ambition got so real when I realized it was now “my time.” My friends and peers were “making it” and living in NYC and booking shows. This meant I could too.
What do you feel is the biggest misconception about the entertainment industry?
I think a big misconception is that people in the entertainment industry have to be or are “on” all the time. People seem to think you are always performing or “showing off” when, in fact, that may be a genuine part of someone’s character or they may really feel a certain way they are expressing. It’s disheartening.
Tell us about your turn in Motown The Musical?
Being in Motown The Musical is monumental for me. It’s a show written by the man himself, Berry Gordy. The person who singlehandedly made the legends that we hear in some way shape or form on a daily basis. To be told by him that because we are in this musical we are absolutely a part of the Motown family is mind blowing! I feel uber blessed and thankful for the opportunity to don those beautiful costumes daily to sing the hits that take so many down memory lane. My favorite part of my performance is when I am portraying Martha Reeves as I sing “Dancing In the Streets.” I love it because it screams Broadway! Every element is there. Lots of dancers, singers, costume changes, sequins, bright flashing lights, and amazing orchestrations. It’s bliss.
Any plans to record another album?
I definitely would love to record more. Thus far, I have recorded music that was reflective of my life. So much has changed since 2011. I can’t wait to record new music that people can truly relate to. I want to show my growth vocally, soulfully, and as a woman when I do.
How do you use social media to your advantage?
Ahhh! Social media runs this world! I love to share but not too much. My private life is so private and so clear from social media. A lesson I’ve learned in this little life of mine. But I don’t mind sharing happy, inspiring, and musical moments. I want to show the beautiful costumes we wear in the show, a little bit of our lives outside of the show, and to encourage and invite people to come see my art whether on the Broadway stage or as a solo artist.
What accomplishment makes you most proud?
I am proud of my personal, physical, and health changes and improvements. When I found love in myself it required me to work really hard at these things. It’s a long road but I still feel encouraged and love that my results have inspired others.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by women who have lived life. When a woman has lived, and I mean lived good, bad, amazing, successful, hurtful, insane, you name it life and can live to tell the story with a smile on her face and encourage me to just..keep….living, I know that I am going to be alright and that I can do absolutely everything. Women are some strong creatures built Ford tough. I am glad to be one of them.
Any favorite affirmations?
Well, a wise woman once came up with a quote…”Don’t be a star … be a galaxy” [laughs]. OK, OK … it’s my quote but let me explain it. One star shines pretty and bright. Yes. But when a whole heap of stars come together to twinkle, sparkle, and light up the sky it’s awe inspiring. It can be applied many ways. My two favorites…if you have many goals, ideas, aspirations and can’t pick just one, do them all….a galaxy. When several wonderfully talented bright and creative people come together as opposed to just one, something really sparkly can be birthed.
What do you do to unwind?
Yoga! I have found my peace, sanity, health, and spirituality in yoga. It absolutely does everything it promises to do for me. I react slower and differently, try to throw ego out of existence, accept the way I am, accept the way things are, and I find peace with all those things.
What’s the last great book you read?
I rarely read and wish I read more. The last book I finished and had a blast reading was B***h is the New Black by Helena Andrews. However, I do have The Four Agreements, The Alchemist, and In The Meantime waiting for me to read on my iPad.
Any advice or words of wisdom for aspiring singers or actors?
Nurture, maintain, and condition your craft. There’s always always room for improvement and you want to be a smart singer so taking a lesson here and there to make sure you’re good is absolutely cool. Be your own agent/manager first because no one will work for you like you.
What’s next for Patrice Covington?
Last year, I was blessed to break into voiceovers. I have done several for McDonald’s and more. This year, I am very interested in crossing over into film and television. Stay tuned. There’s so much more to come.
Catch Patrice in Motown The Musical which finishes it’s Chicago run on Saturday, Aug. 9 and picks up in San Francisco Aug. 15 through Sept. 28.
For a full schedule of cities and dates, please visit the Motown The Musical website.