Fabulous performer Todrick Hall brings new album ‘Straight Outta Oz’ to life on his one-man tour stop.
By Buck C. Cooke
YouTube sensation and gay pop culture personality Todrick Hall surprised his fans last month by releasing a deluxe version of his “Straight Outta Oz” album from last year, including new collaborations with the likes of Tamar Braxton, Amber Riley, Tracie Thoms, and more.
When he spoke to David Atlanta as final touches were being applied to his upcoming tour based on the same project, which lands in our fair city on April 23, Hall called the response to the new album and accompanying visual album “overwhelming.”
And that’s not all he had to say.
When I put out the visual album, I hoped it would get some views and help sell some tickets. I never expected the response to be so big. My fans are really turning up and supporting this. It’s great to have people receive something that you created that is your story and enjoy it in such a big way.
What was it like collaborating with RuPaul on “Low”?
It was awesome! I was a little scared to ask him at first, because he is so busy. He has been a really great mentor to me and always told me “Never be afraid to ask me for anything.” For him to come and sing a song with me, film a video with me, wear my ridiculous costumes, and be pulled in a chariot by two monkey men, it was incredible! He really is my fairy drag mother.
“Proud” and “Over the Rainbow” are so powerful.
People have loved those two songs specifically. So many people have been raised with religious backgrounds like I was. I grew up being terrified and mortified. I thought if I loved who I loved, I had a one-way ticket to Hell. As extreme as that sounds, that’s what I thought. I love that these songs are helping people get to a better place.
Another impactful song is “Black and White.”
That song was really important for me to include because I love the movie “Sister Act” because it made me want to sing and dance. I wanted a 90s-type track that felt like that on the visual album. I called my friends from Pentatonix because we’ve know each other for so long, so I knew these were the people I should be singing this song with.
What’s it like for you to record and perform songs that are so personal?
It is really cool but very vulnerable. It is very odd. It’s like going to a therapist. Music is my therapy. It’s been great having people relate to those songs in a way you might not imagine. You might think gay men would like this or black people might like that but there are stay-at-home moms who are saying these songs helped them. It is wonderful how people are connecting to the material.
You worked with some great collaborators on this album. Who was the most fun?
Raven-Symone was the most fun. I loved her and “That’s So Raven” growing up. For me to see her perform, I was fan-girling! [Laughs.] She is so professional, but she is also fun. She learned her lyrics, her lines, and her performance faster than anyone.
How would you describe the show?
The tour is a mixture of the visual album, a concert, and a Broadway musical. It mostly focuses on “Straight Outta Oz,” but there are some moments when we touch on some of my viral videos from the past, which is a fun wink for fans that have been around from the beginning. There are moments when you want to sit and listen to a story and times when you want to scream and dance and interact. People should come and be ready to have a good time.
What does your success mean to you?
I’m from a small town in Texas. I have a moment every day when I think, “This is so amazing, and I have to be thankful for this because it could all be gone in a second.” I really think about that every day because this is just so incredible. I’m so grateful!
Todrick Hall presents Straight Outta Oz on Sunday, April 23, 8 p.m. at Atlanta Symphony Hall. Visit todrickhall.com.