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Billy Porter|Black Mona Lisa

Black Mona Lisa

Billy Porter

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In 1997, having already made his Broadway debut, performing arts polymath Billy Porter released a self-titled album of smooth R&B that he has since noted deliberately hid his queerness. Over the next 25 years he maintained a presence on Broadway and released a trio of soul-styled, Broadway-themed albums. In the 2010s, he became a Tony- and Emmy-winning queer icon with his roles in Broadway's Kinky Boots and on TV's Pose. With Porter describing it as not only a celebration of life but a lifetime in the making, 2023's Black Mona Lisa finds him at last expressing his authentic self on record with a series of reflections and affirmations drawing on his life experience, shifting outlook, and growing sense of empowerment. These take the form of old-school disco, house, and funk anthems (and the occasional ballad) penned with help from Grammy-winning non-binary songwriter Justin Tranter (Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande). "Broke a Sweat" sets the click track to 120 bpm and gets things going with a kiss-off to those who would push him into the background ("Clipped wings can grow back with good intentions/I'm tired of asking for their permission"). Next up, the Billboard-charting, "Lady Marmalade"-esque "Children" lights a fire under the younger generation ("Been there, done that, worn that dress"), and the strutting, half-rapped "Black Mona Lisa" employs a horn section to help demand his worth. Mixed in with these more celebratory, even preening moments are earnest sentiments concerning hard-won opportunity, expression, and transformation. It's these songs, including "Not Ashamed" and the soaring piano ballad "Audacity," that earn the cathartic release of the rest, including the closing reworking of "Children," "Children (What Time It Is)," a triumphant duet with the album's sole guest vocalist, Lady Blackbird.

© Marcy Donelson /TiVo

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Black Mona Lisa

Billy Porter

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1
Broke a Sweat
00:02:50

Billy Porter, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Eren Cannata, Horn, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Chris Sclafani, Vocal Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Justin Tranter, Producer, Executive Producer, ComposerLyricist - Alex Ghenea, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Merrill, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jussi Ilmari Karvinen, ComposerLyricist - Jussifer, Producer - Brandon Colbein, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited

2
Children
00:03:41

Steve Morris, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Billy Porter, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Invisible Men, Producer - Serban Ghenea, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Richard George, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Chris Worsey, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Everton Nelson, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Ian Humphries, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Tom Pigott-Smith, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Bruce White, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Marianne Haynes, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Oliver Wright, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Reiad Chibah, Viola, Conductor/Piano, AssociatedPerformer - George Astasio, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jon Shave, Keyboards, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - MNEK, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Matthew Allen, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Natalia Bonner, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Eren Cannata, Producer, Guitar, Keyboards, Additional Producer, Programming, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Jade Thirlwall, ComposerLyricist - Uzoechi Emenike, ComposerLyricist - Chris Sclafani, Vocal Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Justin Tranter, Producer, Executive Producer - Michelle Ndegwa, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Simone Torres, Producer, Engineer, Additional Producer, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Daniel Crean, Producer, Drums, Keyboards, Additional Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Warren Zelinski, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Bryce Bordone, Additional Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tony Wollard, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Deborah Oyenuga, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefan Richards, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Areatha Anderson, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2021 Universal Music Operations Limited

3
Black Mona Lisa Explicit
00:03:00

Billy Porter, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Serban Ghenea, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Eren Cannata, Horn Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Justin Tranter, Producer, Executive Producer, ComposerLyricist - Randy Merrill, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jussi Ilmari Karvinen, ComposerLyricist - Jussifer, Producer - Alex Bilowitz, Producer, Horn, Keyboards, Vocal Producer, Synthesizer, Vocal Engineer, Keyboards Arrangements, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Simone Torres, Producer, Engineer, Additional Producer, StudioPersonnel - Brandon Colbein, ComposerLyricist - Bryce Bordone, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 Universal Music Operations Limited

4
Stranger Things
00:04:23

Billy Porter, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Camus Celli, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Iyiola Babalola, Drums, Percussion, Recording Engineer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Andrea Martin, Vocal Producer, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Future Cut, Producer - Darren Emilio Lewis, Guitar, Keyboards, Bass, Asst. Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Justin Tranter, Producer, Executive Producer - Randy Merrill, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Alex Poeppel, Mixer, Vocal Producer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2022 Universal Music Operations Limited

5
Not Ashamed
00:03:31

Billy Porter, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - MNEK, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - The Elements, Producer - Uzoechi Emenike, ComposerLyricist - Chris Sclafani, Vocal Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Justin Tranter, Producer, Executive Producer - Randy Merrill, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - AOD, Producer - Will Reeves, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Keven Wolfsohn, ComposerLyricist - Paul Bogum, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited

6
Fashion
00:03:03

Mitch Allan, Vocal Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Billy Porter, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Alex Bilo, Producer, Horn, Keyboards, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Justin Tranter, Producer, Executive Producer, ComposerLyricist - Alex Ghenea, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Merrill, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jussifer, Producer, Bass, Drum Programming, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Alex Bilowitz, ComposerLyricist - Brandon Colbein, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited

7
Baby Was A Dancer
00:02:39

Billy Porter, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Justin Tranter, Producer, Executive Producer, ComposerLyricist - Alex Ghenea, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Merrill, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jussi Ilmari Karvinen, ComposerLyricist - Daniel Crean, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Brandon Colbein, ComposerLyricist - Toian Keisha Gichie, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2022 Universal Music Operations Limited

8
More To Learn
00:02:46

Billy Porter, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Mitch Allen, Vocal Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Eren Cannata, Producer, Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion, Bass, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Brittany Campbell, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Justin Tranter, Producer, Executive Producer, ComposerLyricist - Alex Ghenea, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Merrill, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Amber Jones, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mike Sabri, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Daniel Crean, Producer, Drums, Guitar, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Brandon Colbein, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited

9
New Shoes
00:03:05

Billy Porter, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Brittany Campbell, ComposerLyricist - Justin Tranter, Producer, Executive Producer, ComposerLyricist - Alex Ghenea, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Merrill, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Russ Chell, Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Sam Homaee, Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Brandon Colbein, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited

10
Funk Is On The One
00:02:38

Billy Porter, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Mitch Allen, Vocal Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Eren Cannata, Producer, Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion, Bass, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Brittany Campbell, ComposerLyricist - Justin Tranter, Producer, Executive Producer, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Alex Ghenea, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Merrill, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Amber Jones, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mike Sabri, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Atia "Ink" Boggs, ComposerLyricist - Daniel Crean, Producer, Drums, Guitar, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Brockett Parson, Synthesizer, AssociatedPerformer - James Meslin, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited

11
Audacity
00:03:48

Mitch Allan, Vocal Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Billy Porter, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Alex Bilo, Producer, Hammond Organ, Piano, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Justin Tranter, Producer, Executive Producer, ComposerLyricist - Alex Ghenea, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Merrill, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jussi Ilmari Karvinen, ComposerLyricist - Jussifer, Producer - Michael Pollack, ComposerLyricist - Karl Wingate, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Alisse Laymac, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Brandon Colbein, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited

12
Children (What Time It Is)
00:03:41

Steve Morris, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Billy Porter, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Invisible Men, Producer - Serban Ghenea, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Richard George, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Chris Worsey, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Everton Nelson, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Ian Humphries, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Tom Pigott-Smith, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Bruce White, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Marianne Haynes, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Oliver Wright, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Reiad Chibah, Conductor, Viola, Strings Conductor, AssociatedPerformer - George Astasio, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jon Shave, Keyboards, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Matthew Allen, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Natalia Bonner, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Eren Cannata, Producer, Guitar, Keyboards, Additional Producer, Bass, Programming, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Jade Thirlwall, ComposerLyricist - Uzoechi Emenike, ComposerLyricist - Justin Tranter, Producer, Executive Producer - Michelle Ndegwa, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Simone Torres, Engineer, Vocal Producer, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Daniel Crean, Producer, Drums, Keyboards, Additional Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Warren Zelinski, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Tony Wollard, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Deborah Oyenuga, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Stefan Richards, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Lady Blackbird, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Areatha Anderson, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited

Presentación del Álbum

In 1997, having already made his Broadway debut, performing arts polymath Billy Porter released a self-titled album of smooth R&B that he has since noted deliberately hid his queerness. Over the next 25 years he maintained a presence on Broadway and released a trio of soul-styled, Broadway-themed albums. In the 2010s, he became a Tony- and Emmy-winning queer icon with his roles in Broadway's Kinky Boots and on TV's Pose. With Porter describing it as not only a celebration of life but a lifetime in the making, 2023's Black Mona Lisa finds him at last expressing his authentic self on record with a series of reflections and affirmations drawing on his life experience, shifting outlook, and growing sense of empowerment. These take the form of old-school disco, house, and funk anthems (and the occasional ballad) penned with help from Grammy-winning non-binary songwriter Justin Tranter (Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande). "Broke a Sweat" sets the click track to 120 bpm and gets things going with a kiss-off to those who would push him into the background ("Clipped wings can grow back with good intentions/I'm tired of asking for their permission"). Next up, the Billboard-charting, "Lady Marmalade"-esque "Children" lights a fire under the younger generation ("Been there, done that, worn that dress"), and the strutting, half-rapped "Black Mona Lisa" employs a horn section to help demand his worth. Mixed in with these more celebratory, even preening moments are earnest sentiments concerning hard-won opportunity, expression, and transformation. It's these songs, including "Not Ashamed" and the soaring piano ballad "Audacity," that earn the cathartic release of the rest, including the closing reworking of "Children," "Children (What Time It Is)," a triumphant duet with the album's sole guest vocalist, Lady Blackbird.

© Marcy Donelson /TiVo

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