RAHWAY, NJ — Actor and singer-songwriter Terron Brooks will be opening Rahway Mayor Raymond Giacobbe’s 2021 Summer Concert Series on Thursday, Aug. 5. Each Thursday in August, Rahway joins the Union County Performing Arts Center in presenting outstanding artists in an outdoor arena, right in front of the historic UCPAC Mainstage Theater at 1601 Irving St.
Brooks, a two-time NAACP Award–nominated actor who has appeared on Broadway in “The Lion King” and “Hairspray,” is widely known for playing Eddie Kendricks of The Temptations in the acclaimed miniseries “The Temptations.” He was also featured in the world premieres of “Sleepless in Seattle: The Musical” and “First Wives Club: The Musical” and has received a nomination for an Ovation Award for his role as Daddy Brubeck in “Sweet Charity.”
Born in Long Beach, Calif., and raised in Orange County, Brooks now lives in Los Angeles and spoke of his interest in entertainment and how it all started for him.
“I started singing at church when I was 6 years old and didn’t really think of making a career of it until after high school and my early college years. I went to a performing arts school, and that’s where I fostered singing, acting and dancing in musical theater. That’s where I homed in on that,” Brooks said on Friday, July 23. “I think, by being with other artists, it kind of just elevated my skill level, but also thinking of it as being a place for me. I think there was a lot of fear based on not seeing a lot of people that looked like me and asking myself if I can make a living from this.
“My passion took over to really see how music and the arts can really affect people in such an inspirational and positive way,” he continued. “That’s when I told myself that I wanted to do this with my life. But school was probably the catalyst. When teachers and anyone that’s inspirational pours into you, you kind of see yourself in a different way. My parents knew that I sang, but they weren’t stage parents to know to push me, which I’m happy they didn’t. But I just think I had an inner connection — I’ve been given a gift and I just want to share it.”
Tapped to perform for “The Soul of Broadway” at the Rahway Concert Series, Brooks said he was glad to be alongside his friend Rhona Bennett of En Vogue and is excited about performing.
“I was in this group called The Company Men and I think we may have performed as a group for UCPAC and then, since I had my own brand-new show, maybe that was the correlation of how they were interested in having me. I got a call from my manager and I wanted to come,” Brooks said. “I’m opening the series with my show, and En Vogue opens the second week. I’m thrilled to be on an illustrious billing. I know I had a show earlier, but, with COVID-19, it was rescheduled. It seems like a perfect summer concert, and I know people will really enjoy it and I’m excited about it. It’s a concert and will be a full 90-minute show.
“My show, ‘The Soul of Broadway,’ is basically Broadway hits and Broadway favorites that we reimagined in a soulful and unique way,” he continued. “For example, songs such as ‘The Impossible Dream’ or ‘Tomorrow’ from ‘Annie,’ but like how you’ve never ever heard it before. It’s a Broadway show and it’s soulful, but we do some Motown, because ‘The Temptations’ is a Broadway musical, and I starred in ‘The Temptations’ miniseries. We kind of weave a little bit of my life story into it. I sing these songs that everyone has heard, but just not the way they’re used to hearing it.
“I don’t know who is going to be there as I am headlining this night, but my expectations for the audience — I just hope that, in this time that we’re trying to open up again, this would be a moment,” he added. “I want to create a moment for people when you go to a concert, hear music, go to the movies, etc. The things that stay with you create a moment for you and I hope that my show is not just fun for people because they’re outside, but I do want to create moments where people feel connected by hearing my story with these songs. That would be my highest expectation. I want people to take something away.”
Brooks’ single “Tomorrow” was released in May and has had more than 1.3 million views on YouTube. Brooks also recorded a duet of the song with Orfeh, who has been in the Broadway musicals “Saturday Night Fever,” “Legally Blonde” and “Pretty Woman.” Brooks spoke about including “Tomorrow” on his upcoming album, “The Soul of Broadway,” due out on Sept. 17. “‘Tomorrow’ is from ‘Annie.’ That’s on the record.… We were picking songs for the record and I came up with a new melody for the same song, which I thought was unique. That was the last song that we recorded for the record, but it was so appropriate. I think maybe a million views came from people affected by COVID-19. We were kind of alluding to COVID and being in the darkness, and then the sun coming out symbolizes us coming out again. So I think it might’ve resonated with people at a time where people needed hope. The record company, Mercia Records, thought that that would be the perfect first single.”
On the record, singer Keala Settle, who sang “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” joins Brooks for a song from “The Color Purple.”
Brooks’ new single, “Something’s Coming” from “West Side Story,” will be released on Friday, Aug. 6. His podcast, “Honest Answers with Terron Brooks,” was launched in May. Brooks, who is currently performing on a Celebrity Cruises cruise ship through Sunday, Aug. 1, has a full schedule for the remainder of 2021.
“I’m excited about the ‘Something’s Coming’ video and the release on Aug. 6. We put a lot of work into making something so unique, and it’s fresh,” Brooks said. “Other things are coming up, where I’m working on a brand-new original album that will be out next year. I’m an author, so I have to start my new book for next year. I’m going on a cruise with ‘The Soul of Broadway,’ so we’re trying to go as many places as we can until they shut us down again. We’ll be bringing our full show to the cruise. We had many opportunities in 2020 that were canceled, of course. So, this will be my first reboot back. I’ve performed on a ship before but never headlined my own show. These opportunities are incredible, and I’m very blessed and excited. We’ll be doing a week this coming week and another two weeks in August, where we’ll be going to the Caribbean. It’s all great.
“With everything that’s going on, I’m excited for the record to be out,” Brooks said. “This is a deluxe version of the record … that we had. I’m most excited that the record will be available again, with the new ‘Tomorrow,’ the new ‘Something’s Coming’ and additional songs. I’m excited that people can finally have it and it’ll be remastered. The hope is to have Vol. 2.”
When asked if he would perform at next year’s Summer Concert Series in Rahway, Brooks said he would be honored.
“I would absolutely perform there again. It would be an honor,” Brooks said. “If someone said they loved the show enough to have me again, that would be the highest compliment. Maybe by then, we’ll have additional songs.”
Giacobbe welcomed Brooks with kind words for the upcoming Summer Concert Series.
“I am thrilled that an artist such as Mr. Brooks, who has made his mark internationally, not only in music, but in film and television and on Broadway, will kick off our Summer Concert Series,” Giacobbe said on Monday, July 26.