An evening with Leslie Odom Jr. at the West campus

Tony and Grammy award winner Leslie Odom Jr. will perform on invitation from ASU professor Jeff Kennedy

Leslie Odom Jr., who played Aaron Burr in the original cast production of the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” is coming to ASU at the invitation of Jeff Kennedy, assistant professor and former artistic director for the West campus.

Odom, who received a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for “Hamilton” and a Grammy for “Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording),” will be performing at the ASU West campus on Oct. 16.

Kennedy invited Odom to ASU as part of the West campus' Summer Community Read program. Every year, incoming freshmen on the West campus are given a book to read the summer before they begin classes at ASU. 

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The author is then invited to give a speech to the freshmen, along with select community members. Previous authors have included Alison Bechdel, Ernest Cline and Wes Moore.

Assistant dean of enrollment services at the West campus, Anne Suzuki, said that the intention of the program is to provide freshmen with a topic they all know about and get them involved at ASU and in the community.

"Students are able to engage in a critical thinking discussion," said Suzuki. "Everybody starts with a common experience."

This year’s selected book, “Hamilton: The Revolution,” was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote and starred in the original cast of “Hamilton,” which will play at ASU Gammage in January 2018.

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The book, coauthored by Jeremy McCarter, offers an in-depth look at the background, making and music of "Hamilton," including lyrics and pictures from the show.

This year, Odom will be filling in for Miranda and McCarter at the Summer Community Read event in the afternoon before the concert. During the event, he will showcase jazz from both the "Hamilton" musical and his Billboard Jazz chart No. 1 album.

Kevin McCawley, a biochemistry senior, said he found Odom's work through “Hamilton,” and is excited to hear songs from the musical at the concert, as well as his solo work.

“’Hamilton’ has kind of been my gateway drug to Broadway,” said McCawley, “I would love, love, love to hear something from ‘Hamilton.’”

Odom also has two solo albums on Spotify: his 2014 self-titled album, and a 2016 holiday album called “Simply Christmas.”

Kennedy said he had no connections to Odom before contacting him for the event but knew how to get in touch with his agency from him experience as a music director.

“There was no magic,” said Kennedy, “I just literally found out who his agent is and called him.”

Even though Odom wasn’t the author of “Hamilton: The Revolution,” Kennedy thought he would be a great speaker for the event because he was part of the musical from the very beginning and suggested having a concert afterwards as well.

Odom recently finished a book, “Failing Up,” that will be released in March 2018, is currently recording his third studio album and will be in the movie “Murder on the Orient Express,” which will show in theaters in November.

“He’s a really inspirational guy,” said Kennedy. “I’ve seen him a few times … and he’s the perfect person for this, so I’m excited about that.”

Kennedy said the West campus has several artistic and cultural events that everyone might not know about, including the annual “Martin Luther King Jr. March on West” in January.

“We tend to be a little more avant-garde experimental over here,” he said.

The performance, “An Evening with Leslie Odom Jr.,” will be on Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the La Sala Ballroom at the West Campus. Tickets can be purchased here.

As of this article's publication, front row tickets to the show are sold out, but general admission tickets are still available for $40 each and $20 for students with the code "HAMILTON."

Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Leslie Odom Jr.'s forthcoming book as "Falling Up." It has been changed to the correct title, "Failing Up."


Reach the reporter at abpotter@asu.edu and follow @abpotter4 on Twitter. 

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