Call Answered: Chris Mann: "A Night With The Phantom at Feinstein's at Vitello's"
When I heard Chris Mann sing “Music of the Night,” I melted. His voice is so rich & powerful! I wish I could have seen him in the 25th Anniversary Tour of The Phantom of the Opera, but alas, I did not.
I am excited, however, to speak with Chris about his upcoming Feinstein’s at Vitello’s debut concert, A Night with The Phantom. We also discussed being on The Voice, performing with Christina Aguilera, and recording with his idol India.Arie
Chris will be playing Feinstein’s at Vitello’s on August 9 at 8pm. Click here for tickets!
Chris’ fourth album NOISE is being released on digital platforms, a single a month. The album’s first single, “Gentleman” is out now.
1. This August, you are making your Feintstein's at Vitello's debut. What excites you about this upcoming show? Well it's my debut at Feinstein's LA so that's already exciting. Always wanna make Mr. Feinstein proud, ya know? I love performing in an intimate space and have some new tricks up my sleeve for this one.
2. What is making you nervous? I always want to try and give something new and evolve my shows. I'm gonna be performing some new material so I guess remembering the lyrics is definitely on my mind. One song has tonnnns of lyrics so I gotta deliver!
3. During this show you will be singing some of your favorite songs from the Broadway stage, Great American Songbook and chart topping solo albums. What was the first song from each (Broadway, Great American Songbook & your solo albums) that you knew just had to be in this show?
Broadway: “The Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera.
Super obvious since I played the part but it's a must have in my set, for sure.
Great American Songbook: “But Not For Me.” I'm currently obsessed with the Harry Connick Jr. version of this and gotta sing it.
Album: “Gentleman.” This is from my new album NOISE and it's super swaggy and fun. I wanna make sure I cover where I am today as an artist as well as yesterday.
4. While I didn't get to see you as The Phantom in the 25th Anniversary tour, I have listened to your rendition of "The Music of the Night," which is outstanding. What artists are you listening to today? Thanks! My playlists are kind of nuts cause I'm into so many genres. My currents include Bazzi (pop), Leon Bridges (singer songwriter), X Ambassadors (rock), Russell Dickerson (country), Hamilton (Bway), JEMS (indie) and The Wiggles (on repeat forever for my son, Hugo, FML).
5. For your role in the 25th Anniversary tour of The Phantom of the Opera, you were hand-picked by Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber to play The Phantom. What is that like? I feel very lucky to have been cast in this role. Looking back on it I realize how many stars have to align for that kind of opportunity and don't take that for granted.
I had been touring promoting my PBS television specials for two years and had a desire to get back on stage doing musical theatre. I grew up performing in theatre and at regional theaters like Music Theatre of Wichita, where I'm from. I always dreamed of playing The Phantom and it kind of fell out of the universe.
I was performing at an event in Vancouver with Liz Callaway, Brenna Whitaker and Broadway Phantom, Hugh Panaro. Richard-Jay Alexander was directing. I remember listening to Hugh sing “The Music of the Night” at soundcheck and said to Richard-Jay, "I wanna play The Phantom." I was super inspired. Literally a few weeks later, the audition breakdown went out for the role. I auditioned for Raoul in Los Angeles and then was called back for The Phantom in New York City. Shortly after, I was cast by the director, Laurence Conner, Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Weber. The whole thing was super fast and fortuitous. Cameron Mackintosh flew in for my "put in" into the show in Florida, which was so nerve wracking. He gave the final, final approval on me, thank God. I still pinch myself thinking how it all worked out.
6. With all your theatrical and solo music concerts, have you ever encountered a real-life Phantom of the Opera? Yes. His name is Sven and he lives underneath the slot machines at The Golden Nugget in Vegas. He's a chain smoker, but he's trying to quit. He also knows where all the best buffets are in town.
7. In addition to your upcoming show at Feinstein's at Vitello's, you are gearing up to release your fourth studio album NOISE. What can you tell us about this album? NOISE is pop pop pop. I wanted to make the record I've always wanted to make but didn't. I'm a songwriter, so wanted that to be at the forefront of this album.
NOISE is all about standing up for what you believe in with a ton of swagger. My current single is a duet with India.Arie called "Honestly." It was a true honor to record with one of my musical heroes. My next single releases Aug 9 and is about my son. It's called "If You Ever Leave." I'm releasing NOISE as one single per month on all streaming platforms with videos that supplement as well.
8. What is your favorite part of the recording process? The songwriting part is my favorite. I love being in the studio and hashing out ideas. Building the track and collaborating on ideas and the general hang is so fun. I really love it.
9. On this album you got to record with one of your idols, India.Arie. What did you learn from recording with her? India is amazing because she says yes. She has always been someone I admired as a person because she leads with her heart. The day after we met years ago she invited me to sing with her at The Greek Theatre in LA. She didn't even know me yet. She just took a chance. When she heard our duet "Honestly" she recorded her vocals the next day and sent them to me. That kind of stuff doesn't happen. She follows through and leads by example. And her voice is buttery everything.
10. Second to last, since you were on The Voice, I must ask you this...how do you hope, in addition to music, to continue to use your voice to bring light in these dark times we live? I've made a commitment this year to lend my voice to charities I believe in, pro bono. I'm lucky to get paid to sing but I forgot how many wonderful opportunities there are to sing for free that can really make a difference and be so satisfying. I'm currently working again with Cure Alzheimer's Fund to fundraise for their incredible research lab. I've also recently joined with Baby Quest to raise money for families needing funding for IVF treatments. There's a big world out there outside of music and I'm enjoying being a part of it.
11. Now, lastly, what fun stories can you share about being on The Voice and performing with Christina Aguilera? I auditioned for The Voice wanting to sing “The Prayer” with Christina in the finale. When it all happened that way I was super thankful. Christina is a pro and no matter how she feels physically or vocally she's going to give 1000%. That was always incredible to see. She was under the weather the day of our finale performance and we were really leaning on each other to pull it off. I remember she came to sound check and was really not feeling well. I looked down and she had broken up Ricola cough drops stuck to her butt. She had no idea. I leaned over and whispered, "Hey Christina...you have Ricolas all over your ass." She started laughing. It totally changed the mood. That brought us closer together as friends. I thought we crushed it that night. I absolutely loved that moment. I have a picture of us performing that song at home on my piano.
More on Chris:
Chris Mann is no stranger to the spotlight. His debut album Roads (Universal/Republic Records) hit #1 on Billboard's Heatseekers Chart and appeared on the Billboard Top 200 and iTunes charts. His sophomore release, Constellation, followed suit, also topping the Billboard and iTunes charts.
Mann has starred in his own concert and holiday TV specials for PBS, Chris Mann In Concert: A Mann For All Seasons and Home For Christmas. Riding the wave of success, he toured to sold-out audiences across America, Mexico and Asia.
Mann lit up a global audience with his 2012 post Super Bowl XLVI performance on NBC’s The Voice which was watched by a record-breaking 37.6 million viewers. His chart-topping duet with superstar Christina Aguilera solidified him as one of the most unique voices in the history of the show.
Continuing his meteoric rise, Mann was personally cast by Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber as The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera's 25th Anniversary Tour. Mann donned the iconic mask for over 700 performances with critics hailing him as “the best Phantom since Michael Crawford.”
After years building his presence on the national stage, he's back in the studio working on his new album, NOISE. Co-written and co-produced by Mann, the upcoming album takes him back to his pop roots, reminiscent of his early days playing clubs in New York City. It also features a powerful duet with one of Mann's idols, Grammy-winning artist, India.Arie.
Chris has performed with the National Symphony for President and Mrs. Barack Obama, headlined at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and at New York City's famed Christmas in Rockefeller Center Concert. He has also appeared on Ellen, The Today Show, Conan, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Late Show with James Corden and Christmas in Washington.
But of all of these dream performance opportunities, Mann cherishes one above the rest. Chris was invited to sing to honor his country at the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS. During that unforgettable concert, Chris performed on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol for an audience of over 300,000 and millions of TV viewers to honor American service men and women and their families--an experience he will never soon forget.