DETROIT (WWJ) – A Detroit native is living his dream, starring in a Broadway musical about Motown.
Eastern Michigan University Theater Arts graduate Jawan Jackson says — when he landed the role of the Temptations’ ultra-bass singer, Melvin Franklin — it just felt right.
“The role was made for me, it was written for me, and this is my part,” Jackson told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Chrystal Knight.
“I found the call for auditions by chance on a casting website,” said Jackson, 25, who was teaching high school acting classes in Ypsilanti at the time. “I just thought I’d audition for a chorus member, not for a featured role. For my first audition, I sang, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”
That audition led to a second, where he sang the bass line for the major hit “Ball of Confusion.” The call to audition before the musical’s director came two weeks later and was held at the original Motown recording studio in Detroit’s New Center area.
“It was mind-blowing,” Jackson said. “The producers were having a hard time finding a strong bass singer, which is why they were so excited when they heard me sing.”
After graduating from Ferndale High School, Jackson had initially majored in biology at EMU, with the goal of becoming an animal trainer.
Jackson said he finds it ironic that he is now singing on Broadway.
“I sang at church and used to be shy,” he said. “I had a high tenor voice in the 7th grade. I was ashamed of my voice, so I stopped singing. When my voice dropped, I began taking voice lessons privately. Those lessons paid off.”
“Motown: The Musical” showcases the history of Motown and its founder, Barry Gordy, and explores the lives of such stars as Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.
Jackson said Gordy is very involved in the production — and he welcomes it. “Give me that. I want more of that. Don’t shy away,” he said.
The cast is currently rehearsing six days a week for eight hours a day. As opening day draws near, the cast will work 12-hour days.
Learn more about Jackson and Motown the Musical at this link.