If you haven’t heard of Brittany Campbell yet – you will. A classic triple (or quadruple) threat – she can sing, act, dance – and even dabbles in animation.
Brittany has been building her career since she was only 5-years-old. You can currently find her in Chicago, performing as Angelica Schuyler in the cultural phenomenon otherwise known as Hamilton. She also had a role in Netflix’s revival of “She’s Gotta Have It,” playing the character Black Diamond. If you don’t think her resumé is impressive already…she got her start performing in the Metropolitan Opera’s Chorus in New York City…all during her young teen years. Before her move to Chicago for Hamilton, Campbell has had broadway experience in A Christmas Carol and studied music at Carnegie Melon – a university that has been described as “the destination for the academically gifted musician.”
While balancing her time in Hamilton, Campbell has also been working on her new album, Stay Gold, which will be released on April 28.
I was more than excited to have a Q&A with Brittany about her upbringing, inspirations, and career goals. Keep reading to learn more!
Q: Can you explain your upbringing in New York? Were you inspired to perform at a young age? What influenced your drive to pursue a career in entertainment?
A: I feel grateful when I think about coming up in New York. I was exposed to so many different elements of music and culture and have been consciously and subconsciously shaped by that. I think that is why I can’t exactly make pop music or R&B music or be spot on with any particular genre.
I was forced into singing. I was incredibly shy. I had this really mature voice though so adults would always ask me to sing…I remember when I was 5 years old and had to sing this thing for a benefit at my school. I closed my eyes the entire time..I think I even cried because I was so scared.
It was my music teacher at St. Jerome that pushed it to the point of no return. I was 7-years-old and she pulled me aside one day and told me that she was going to call my mother. I thought I was in trouble. She told us that she’d signed me up for this opera competition at Carnegie Hall for the Rosa Ponsell Foundation.
My mother knew nothing about opera and I sure as hell knew nothing about opera. My mom combed the city to find me a vocal coach who would agree to take me on for little to no money…we didn’t have much.
Ms. Mercedes ended up teaching me. After hearing me sing, she went straight to my mother and told her she would start teaching me. She is a Jedi opera master.
Q: Winning an Opera Competition at Carnegie Hall that ultimately opened many doors for you. Can you expand on that a bit?
A: It ended up that I was competing with 16 to 18-year-olds who had been training for a decade. I remember the moment I won my award because they had introduced the award recipient as the youngest to ever do the competition.
After this award, I was recruited for the Metropolitan Opera’s Chorus. Life became opera for a while. I have done about 6 operas at Lincoln Center. The more I think about those years, the more I realize that, for me, it was the genesis of hearing sound, arrangement, colors, and dynamics on an intimate level. The metropolitan opera is where music possessed me and became more than just singing. From there, I assumed that music simply would always be what I did at whatever capacity.
Q: Studying at Carnegie Mellon must have been an amazing experience. Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians or theater performers who are wanting to pursue a college degree in theater?
My decision to audition for Carnegie Mellon was sort of random. I had heard my classmates talking about it, I hadn’t really given serious thought to college, and thought “Why not give it a go?”
The best thing about having gone to Carnegie Mellon is that I met my greatest collaborators there and that truly is priceless. In terms of advice, after college, your journey is your journey. Nobody’s story is the same and I almost guarantee it’ll be a mess, but trusting the process is key.
Q: How has your time on Broadway in A Christmas Carol and The Civil war influenced your performance in Hamilton?
ALL of my time on stage has influenced my performance in Hamilton. All of it. The stage is where I feel at home.
When I made my Civil war debut at just 9-years-old, I opened the show and forgot to put my microphone on. There was that time that I performed at the Brooklyn Academy of music when I was 10 and had just sliced my big toe open on a shard of glass – there was blood gushing from my foot inside my shoe as I sang my solo. There have been so many failures and embarrassing moments for me on stage that I’ve naturally had to develop a sort of confidence.
Hamilton, above all, requires bravery, confidence and attack. There are so many elements of the show that simply don’t allow for you to be unsure. Once the show starts, it STARTS. I think my whole life on the stage has equipped me with tools that make me able to be in a show like Ham.
Q: It’s really cool to learn that you are a multi-faceted artist who also dabbles in animation and fashion. How do these different talents relate with each other?
A: To me, it all relates. I’ve always been interested in clothes. Punk fashion and hip hop fashion especially speaks to me because it’s so DIY. I’ve always wanted my expression to be my own whether it be music or clothing. t also has to do with my love of fantasy and dreams…the beauty of potential…aspirations.
Animation can push the music even further into the dreamscape – it can also further abstracts familiar ideas…which I love. Clothes, especially when you‘re performing can serve as a gateway into the world/atmosphere you are trying to create for you and your audience..it all correlates.
Q: Your next album, Stay Gold, drops on April 28th. It features fourteen tracks that really allow you to show off your vocal abilities. What inspired you to create this album? What do you hope it says about you as a performer?
A: The album came out of melancholy because I really and truly thought that this album was gonna be my breakup with music which then kind of became parallel to my love life. It’s an album where, because I took a while to write and develop the songs, I made a lot of discoveries about myself, love and life.
Q: If you could describe your sound in three words, what words would you use?
A: R&B, wavy and eclectic.
Q: It has been noted that you’ve been inspired by Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, and a handful of other female performers. Who is currently inspiring you at the moment in music, film, tv, etc and why?
A: During my process there were important people I was influenced by: Marvin Gaye, Nick Hakim, Cherubim, Mad Mad Minds, Jonathan Hoard, Erykah Badu, Hiatus Kaiyote, Janet Jackson, Aaliyah, Wet, Sales, Prince…and more.
For whatever reason, watching Skateboard videos inspires me to write and create music the most. Something about the motion and the recklessness. The Love Witch, Rosson Crow (Artist), Alex Da Corte (Artist) are gonna be major inspirations for my music videos and visuals….animations like Yellow Submarine. Any Ralph Bakshi films will be major on my animations.
Q: It’s obvious that you are talented in all realms of performing. You can dance, act and have a beautiful voice. It seems as though the sky is the limit for you. Any idea on what you want to do next?
A: I would really like to make a feature length animation…if I could do that this year, i’ll be a happy woman. Beyond that, there are so many dreams and so many plans – it’s just a matter of finding the time to do them all.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: Wakanda Forever!
Check out Brittany’s channels below: