BY NATALIA NINGTHOUJAM
New Delhi, Nov 5 (IANS) Tony and Grammy Award-winning performer Leslie Odom Jr. recently collaborated with Australian indie-pop star Sia, and he cannot stop gushing about her.
Sia, known for delivering hits like “Cheap thrills” and “Titanium”, joined him on the new version of his song “Cold”, which had originally featured in his 2019 album, “Mr.”
“I got a message from my friend who happens to be an international pop sensation. Sia said she loved the song. I asked her in a joking way if she would consider making the song a duet and recording a version with me,” Leslie told IANS.
He thought she would politely decline but maybe she would consider writing with him and recording something else in the future.
“Sia always over-delivers. She lives to surprise and delight. I love the new version of the song so much. Jesse Shatkin produced it. He produced ‘Chandelier’ with Sia and many others. It was a real honour to have his help reimagining the track too,” said Leslie, best known for his breakout role as Aaron Burr in the Broadway project “Hamilton”.
He also stars in Sia’s forthcoming film and her directorial debut, “Music”, alongside Kate Hudson and Maddie Ziegler.
“I learned so much making her movie ‘Music’ with her. It is a musical and Sia sang all of the demos before Kate, Maddie, and I got in the studio to sing our parts. So we found our way into the world she was imagining by seeing (and singing) the material through her eyes (and instrument) first,” he said.
“We all had to find our inner Sia on the path to performing that material for her once we were on set. It made me bolder and less precious. She made me better then and she made me better again when we came in to record this new version of ‘Cold’. You could easily call it Colder! With Sia and Jesse’s help, the song is more immediate and exciting and impactful than we ever knew it could be,” he added.
While working with her, Leslie found her to be a “supremely sensitive artiste with real depth of feeling. You can probably intuit this even without working with her but these qualities are her super powers and you see that very clearly when you work closely with her for any length of time”.
He has more projects lined up for release. “The Christmas Album” is coming out on November 6.
Talking about the holiday album, he shared: “There are two original songs on this one. Two original songs in addition to the classics. I certainly hope people enjoy them as much. That’s what daunting about new original holiday music. It’s been done very well for a century and people are sentimental and particular when it comes to their holiday playlists. We were up for the challenge though. I love the record very much. It was such an unexpected gift to us. We never would have made it had this year rolled out as planned. All we wanted to do was tour the original album. We weren’t planning on recording any new music at all.”
Asked about collaborations on the new album, Leslie said: “Cynthia Erivo, The Walls Group, my wife (Nicolette Robinson) and a brilliant youth choir from South Africa.”
Like most artistes, he also used the lockdown period to write new songs.
“‘Heaven & Earth’ is the final song on the new holiday project. The most personal song I’ve ever written next to ‘Foggy’ from ‘Mr.’ It has been a strange and challenging year. But 2020 will also always be the year that gave me ‘Heaven & Earth’,” he said.
Leslie has also made his mark as an actor with roles in films such as “Murder On the Orient Express”, “Harriet” and “Only”. He kept the actor in him alive during lockdown with a starring role in the rom-com TV mini-series, “Love In The Time Of Corona”.
“This year has been fairly traumatic. Part of the way I process trauma is to make art about it. Nicolette and I jumped at the chance to process some of the trauma and grief within the context of a script. ‘Love in the Time of Corona’ was also committed to a spirit of joy in the tone of the show. That was appealing too,” said Leslie.