From ‘Jersey’ to Costa Mesa, singer loves songs of the ‘60s
John Lloyd Young, the actor and singer who won a Tony Award for his role as Frankie Valli in Broadway’s “Jersey Boys,” has a simple method for preparing for his next concert — he plans to stay quiet.
“On Broadway, I played Frankie Valli in more than 1,300 performances, so I have to make sure I’m rested,” Young said with a laugh.
The supple croon that Young has been lauded for is coming to Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts in the nostalgic sounds of the 1960s during a three-night engagement beginning Thursday.
Young, who echoed Valli’s falsetto onstage and again on the screen for director Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation of the story of ‘60s pop group the Four Seasons, plans to romance the audience with selections from his debut album, “My Turn,” a collection of ‘60s love songs. This time he’ll do less New Jersey accent and reveal his true voice.
He will be joined by a five-piece band on classics such as “Since I Fell For You,” “Hey There Lonely Girl” and “In the Still of the Night.”
His love affair with R&B songs of the ‘60s began early in childhood, when Young, now 39, would listen to his grandparents’ favorite singer.
“Frank Sinatra is the soundtrack of my childhood memories, and I have warm memories of listening to him while being with my grandparents,” he said.
“They loved how he phrased lyrics, and I observed that when Frank Sinatra sang, he sounded like he was singing directly to you. That was a huge influence to me and something that I want to carry out to the audience.”
Young said he was a military brat, living in many U.S. cities. When he and his family moved to Montgomery, Ala., his African American friends gave him mix tapes of Thomas Whitfield and other gospel singers, getting Young, then a teenager, swept up in Southern Baptist music.
“It was deep-down-into-your-guts singing,” Young recalled.
His debut album, available on iTunes, is Young’s way of re-creating R&B hits from the ‘60s, with acoustic instruments and unaltered vocals.
“It’s the perfect marriage,” he said before listing songs from his album that he will perform at the Segerstrom Center.
Young called Mel Carter’s 1965 big-seller “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,” his favorite.
“It’s such a happy, exuberant song,” he said.
One song took some convincing before he would perform it.
“Who am I to sing the Platters?” he said of the vocal group from the era of early rock ‘n’ roll.
He took the risk with a rendition of “Only You.”
The album, which is intended to sound like the classics as originally recorded, was produced by London producer Arthur Baker and Tommy Faragher of the Fox TV show “Glee.” Other cover tunes include “Show and Tell,” “Unchained Melody,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Ebb Tide.”
“These are songs that you already know you’ll like,” Young said.
Young, who has performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall, among many other venues, wants his Segerstrom Center audiences to connect to the songs and feel energized while listening to the lyrics. Yes, he’ll do a breakup song or two but said concert-goers should feel good anyway because they will probably be on a date.
“I like for people to make a connection and feel good about the subject,” he said.
Once he wraps up his stay in Costa Mesa on Saturday, Young will carry on his mission to support the arts as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, which assists the White House and its federal partners in cultural outreach.
President Obama appointed Young to the committee in 2013. He was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and joined fellow members Yo-Yo Ma, Forest Whitaker, Edward Norton and artists, dancers, authors, philanthropists and businesspeople.
“I’m passionate about being an arts advocate, and this is an unforgettable privilege,” Young said. “It was a real surprise.”
Though he has made five stops at the White House this year, Young said being at the Segerstrom Center will be special because he can express the feelings of the classic singers and songwriters through his voice.
“It’s a unique experience for me to sing them and for the audience to hear them sung,” he said. “It’s a rare treat.”
If you go
Who: John Lloyd Young
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday
Where: Samueli Theater, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Cost: Tickets start at $79
Information: (714) 556-2787 or scfta.org