ABOUT ELIJAH ROCK
"ROCK IS ‘THE CROONER’ AND SINGS DELICIOUSLY" - LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS
Long-dedicated to upholding and aligning himself with the first class carriage and aesthetic of timeless entertainment, singer/actor/dancer/recording artist, Elijah Rock is carrying the blazing torch for the legacy of The Great American Songbook and more. Currently, Rock can be seen headlining as the lead vocalist in Vegas! the Show on weekends at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
Gershwin For My Soul was the Cleveland-born baritone’s critically acclaimed debut album (LP). Jazziz Magazine marveled, “Rock brings both chops and emotion to his masculine yet sensitive delivery.” Rock travelled to Thailand to star and make his directorial debut in a gorgeous music video for the lead single/title track “Gershwin For My Soul” that is bringing a sensual touch of class to video outlets around the globe. Rock and his lovely co-star cavort in the sun-dappled climes and evening breezes of Phuket interspersed with Elijah crooning about the timeless grace of George and Ira Gershwin.
It is but one of 12 masterful performances on the album, produced and arranged by Grammy-winning keyboardist/musical director Kevin Toney (original member of The Blackbyrds) to bring the music of Gershwin into its rightful contemporary space, ably aided by bassist John B. Williams and drummer Greg Paul, plus guitarists Jacques Lesure and John Storie. The arrangements range from hiply syncopated updates on “Fascinating Rhythm” and “Our Love is Here to Stay” to Rock milking the rarely heard extended introduction to “How Long Has This Been Going On?” (before it falls like feathers into a soft brushed blues) and a version of the delightful “S’Wonderful” in a tender take that recalls the spirit of recently departed Al Jarreau. The album represents a full circle journey for Rock who started singing at age 8 in church, attended University Prep School followed by his introduction to Gershwin's “Porgy & Bess” at age 16 while a young artist at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
That connection is key to Elijah Rock, who revived the music of “Porgy & Bess” in a revolutionary new presentation that was originally written as an Opera then turned into a Broadway musical, into a pure jazz adaptation. This “Porgy & Bess” premiered at the 300-seat Ensemble Theater in Santa Barbara, California to raves from audiences bowled over by the intimacy, the freshness and Rock’s vocal and acting mastery. The Ventura Star hailed, "It’s Rock’s magical singing that makes him stand out, with extended lines and graceful nuance delivered by a voice that can be forceful or gentle as the moment demands."
Winner of the 2014 NAACP Theater Award for Best Male Equity performer in “Breath and Imagination: The Story of Roland Hayes" triple threat Rock sailed into these endeavors on the wings of glowing acclaim for his stage performances that include his 2016 Ovation Award Nomination for his role as the legendary Cotton Club star Cab Calloway in the musical revue “I Only Have Eyes For You” produced by legendary producer/song-writer(s,) Corky Hale and Mike Stoller. Other Notable roles include The Crooner in “Words by Ira Gershwin." The Glendale News raved, “Baritone Rock, with charm to spare, shifts smoothly from crisp jazz phrasings to the operatic…” The Hollywood Progressive proclaimed, “The youthful Rock, who appears in Showtime’s TV series ‘Masters of Sex,’ is establishing himself as one of his generation’s foremost interpreters and performers of The Great American Songbook.”
Beyond the stage, composer and director Dean Hakada is developing a documentary under the working title of “Breath and Imagination- The Rise of a Black Crooner,” which delves into the makings of Rock- a true classic crooner and partially inspired by a cherished Bel Canto vocal technique that extends from Spaniard Manuel Garcia (who taught it to the Italians where it became a staple of opera) and Vladimir Chernov (the great Russian Baritone who Rock adapted the technique from) to the late Roland Hayes, an African American tenor singer who Rock has portrayed on regional stages across the country and who he believes embraced and embodied the technique philosophically.
Rock elucidates, “It’s about breathing a tonality that manifests a sound. What you are singing on the breath reflects the core essence of what you are feeling/thinking in the moment. Breathing is the function that unites us all. If you’re not breathing, you’re not living. That philosophy is important for singers. The stage is our platform, and I believe that the entertainer’s job is to be transparent and vulnerable, ultimately, to unite through the honest exploration of a shared creative experience that brings joy and revelation to the audience. That doesn’t mean we can’t address sensitive subjects but at the end of the day, the resolution is how we can live together. And art enables us to first envision that which we ultimately long to make real.”
”Rock concludes. “I am grateful to so many singers that continue to inspire me, like Billy Eckstine, Johnny Hartman, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole and Arthur Prysock to name a few. The music I sing from The Great American Songbook, Broadway, Classical accompanied by my original compositions is what I consider to be timeless because it’s rooted in the foundation of America’s cultural and musical legacy. But it’s also performance art in the universal language of music for all ages, shared with an explicit intention to imagine a world where human beings see each other as equals in all walks of life – an open window into open-mindedness, and a singular, compassionate vision of a united humankind.”
Back in the studio, Rock is currently recording his sophomore album, “Matters of the Heart.” On the album, Rock collaborates with famed contemporary songwriters, Joel Evans and Adryan Russ with duo recordings of "Whispers in the Night" / "Susurros en La Noche" ( the Spanish version) as well as other American Songbook classics such as “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “The Shadow of Your Smile.”
Audiences around the globe revel in Rock’s heart-tugging performances, including Rock's original material that is striking a hot chord with fans. His original composition, "New York City Springtime" is now available for download.
AWARDS, HONORS, FUNDRAISERS AND DISTINGUISHED GALA'S
2019- Carlsbad Library and Arts Foundation Gala (Carlsbad, CA)
2018- Cork and Soul Festival benefiting JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) (Las Vegas, NV)
2018- WeSPARK.org- FUNDRAISER (Los Angeles, CA)
2018 NORTH COAST REPERTORY THEATRE ANNUAL BENEFIT GALA- Around the World in 80 Days (San Diego, CA)
2017 CLEVELAND PLAYHOUSE ANNUAL BENEFIT GALA- Grand Illusion- A Magical Odyssey (Cleveland, OH)
2016 OVATION THEATER AWARD Nomination- Best Featured Actor in a Musical as Cab Calloway (I Only Have Eyes for You) (Los Angeles, CA)
2016 IRNE (The Independent Reviewers of New England) THEATER AWARD- Nomination for Actor in a Musical as Roland Hayes (Breath and Imagination) (Boston, MA)
2015 NATIONAL ANTHEM -Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s State of City Address at Boston Symphony Hall (Boston, MA)
2014 NAACP THEATER AWARD WINNER- Best Male Equity as Roland Hayes (Breath and Imagination) (Los Angeles, CA)