"We tried to make an album that could hang around -- something that wasn’t trendy. The next album I think we’re going to take a crack at originals."
A few months after winning a 2016 Tony Award for his searing performance as Aaron Burr in Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr. found himself in London co-starring with such luminaries as Johnny Depp and Judi Dench in Kenneth Branagh’s feature film remake of Murder on the Orient Express (out Nov. 10) -- all of which left him little time to promote his second album, Simply Christmas, released on S-Curve Records last fall. So for the 2017 yuletide season, Odom is delivering a deluxe edition of the album that was released Friday (Oct. 27) with four additional songs, making for a total of 12, ranging from classics like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” to “Christmas” from The Who’s Tommy given an ethereal makeover.
It may be a couple months yet until Christmas comes, but Odom has lots to celebrate. Since leaving Hamilton, he and his wife, Nicolette Robinson, became first-time parents when daughter Lucille Ruby was born in April. This fall, he’s been performing songs from his albums and Hamilton in a series of concerts around the country. And capping it off in December is a performance at New York’s Appel Room that will be filmed for PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center. Odom even lent his rising-star persona to ad campaigns for Nationwide Insurance and Fossil watches. Clearly he’s not throwing away his shot.
Billboard talked to Odom about his holiday album, influences and whether he'd ever like to play Burr again. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.