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He knows he has a lot to live up to, but Alex Boyé is not throwing away his shot.
Boyé stepped up to headline the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Pioneer Day concerts after a last-minute scheduling snafu forced Christopher Jackson, beloved (and Tony-nominated) for his performance as George Washington in the hit Broadway musical "Hamilton," to withdraw.
"It's the greatest opportunity ever," said Boyé, who was a member of the choir for eight years before leaving to concentrate on a solo career. He's been back a few times since then as a guest on "Music and the Spoken Word" and accompanied the choir on its 2015 concert tour. He also has competed on "America's Got Talent," earned a halftime gig at an upcoming "Monday Night Football" game, and drawn hundreds of millions of views with his music videos, some co-starring artists such as the Piano Guys and One Voice Children's Choir.
Even so, this is a bigger thrill than anything he's done so far. "It's like on a basketball team when there's a main guy and you're there to support and come in off the sidelines. This time it's very different. There is no sideline. I get to do the whole gig. … This is the pinnacle, the icing on the cake."
The short notice might have given him pause, "but my mum always taught me to say yes and ask questions later," Boyé said. "I'm very, very excited. It's so surreal."
Born in London, raised by a Nigerian mother and naturalized as a U.S. citizen on Feb. 22, 2012 (Washington's birthday, funnily enough), the former boy-band member has developed a signature style in which he peppers popular songs with African rhythms as well as phrases in Yoruba, Swahili and other languages.
He and Mormon Tabernacle Choir general manager Scott Barrick said most of the weekend's concert repertoire will go on as planned, though a few adjustments have been made. The exact content of the choir's Pioneer Day and Christmas extravaganzas is always a closely guarded secret. But "if you've followed the choir and Alex Boyé, you can guess," Barrick said. (In other words, concertgoers probably can expect to hear "I Want Jesus to Walk With Me.") "Anything [music director Mack Wilberg] comes out with is going to be amazing," Boyé said.
Barrick said choir officials and producers of "Bull," the CBS courtroom drama on which Jackson plays a style expert, "did everything in our power" to resolve the unanticipated scheduling conflict. "He was devastated that he's not able to come. He put in personal calls to choir leadership," said Barrick, adding that the choir hopes to book Jackson as soon as possible.
Officials were thrilled and relieved that Boyé was available. "Alex's career is so up-and-coming," Barrick said. "We think he's going to be magnificent. …
"It's a testament to the artistry of the choir and orchestra" that they've taken the change in stride. "They're able to move on a dime. It will all be good."
Pioneer Day with Boyé
Alex Boyé will sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square on two concerts celebrating Pioneer Day.
When • Friday and Saturday, July 14-15, 8 p.m.
Where • LDS Conference Center, 90 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • Free, but "sold out"; standby line forms at the north gate of Temple Square
Tune in • Saturday's performance will be live-streamed at motab.org/pioneerday as well as on the LDS Church satellite system and BYU Television