Actor/Singer/Writer/Producer/Dancer and self-proclaimed “Artrepreneur” Elijah Rock has left few stones unturned in his quest for performance art excellence since leaving his native Cleveland, Ohio. He not only seeks out challenging creative opportunities, he creates them – in the spotlight and behind the scenes.
Winner of the 2014 NAACP Theater Award for Best Male Equity performer in “Breath and Imagination: The Story of Roland Hayes,” Elijah Rock recently wowed critics and audiences with performances starring as Porgy in the first ever jazz adaptation of "Porgy and Bess" (Ensemble Theatre-Santa Barbara). Rock was also Nominated for a 2016 Ovation Award for Best Featured Male Performer as the legendary Harlem show man Cab Calloway in “I Only Have Eyes For You: The Life and Lyrics of Al Dubin” (Ricardo Montalban Theater - Hollywood). In Television, Rock appeared as a recurring guest star in the second season of the spicy Showtime Television series “Masters of Sex,” before reprising his award-winning role as ‘Roland Hayes’ at ArtsEmerson’s historical Paramount Theater in Boston (where he also sang the National Anthem at the 2015 State of the City Address for Mayor Marty Walsh in Boston Symphony Hall). As a producer, Rock has teemed up with award-winning director/writer Antwone Fisher to produce the history-rich big screen biopic “Lincoln Perry - The Life of Stepin Fetchit."
As the Crooner in the musical play, "Words by Ira Gershwin" Rock's participation on that musical expose’ of the legendary Tin Pan Alley genius's, inspired Elijah to record in 2016 a contemporary twist to the music of George & Ira Gershwin via the innovative Gershwin For My Soul (produced by pianist, arranger and composer Kevin Toney of `70s Soul-Jazz band The Blackbirds). It is currently making its way up the jazz charts. Targeting performance arts centers and playhouses as well as traditional music venues, Elijah will bring a unique live presentation of this music with theatrical, staging, choreography and lighting elements that position the show as more than a stand-up vocal concert yet not quite a full-on musical. Directed by Saundra McClain (who helmed his NAACP Award-winning performance in “Breath and Imagination”), Elijah’s vision for the Gershwin project – and all of his endeavors - must be experienced to be fully understood and deeply appreciated.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Rock grew up singing in Lee Heights Community Church and as a student at University School- preparatory school for boys, from which he was discovered by The Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Chorus and The Cleveland Opera Children’s Chorus. He was a boy soprano until his voice changed and he joined the Cleveland Singing Angeles as a soloist. Thus, he fell in love with Classical Voice, Theatre Performance and later, Jazz Performance and Jazz Tap. As a high school youth, Rock studied bel canto singing and acting at the world-renowned Interlochen Arts Camp for two summers under the tutelage of Beverly Rinaldi. In his senior year, he had the honor of being one of the first vocalists to be accepted into the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) Young Artist Program where he continued his studies with Ms. Rinaldi. It was also in Cleveland, where he studied theatre drama, dance, improvisational and sketch comedy at the Karamu House Theatre – the oldest long-running African American theatre in the country. Furthering his roots in African American forms of classical music, Elijah went on to become a soloist for the renown ‘Albert McNeil, Los Angeles Jubilee Singers,’ singing Negro Spiritual music in concert halls around the world. It’s no wonder, that when Rock discovered the likes of Paul Robeson, Roland Hayes, Earl Jeffries, Al Hibbler, Arthur Prysock, Joe Williams and Sammy Davis, Jr. at an early age, he would find his calling and devote his life to the Classical Performing Arts, Theatre and The Great American Songbook.
Rock’s diverse skill set has landed him lead roles in theatre productions off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country. Works include starring as ‘Roland Hayes’ in “Breath and Imagination,” at the ArtsEmerson Paramount Theater in Boston and The Cleveland Playhouse (where he was recognized with Superior Achievement by the 2014 Cleveland Critics Circle Awards), August Wilson’s ‘Cory’ in “Fences,” ‘Youngblood’ in “Jitney,” “Vaudeville,” “To Be Young Gifted and Black” and ‘Ace of Spades’ in “Hoodoo Love.” Musicals include the iconic lead role of ‘Coalhouse Walker, Jr.,’ in “Ragtime,” ‘Adrian’ in “Smokey Joe’s Café,” “Baby It’s You,” “Sophisticated Ladies,” “Paradise,” as ‘Tater’ (a World Premier Bluegrass Musical) and ‘Anatoly’ in “Chess” at the East West Players, and the ‘Crooner’ in “Words by Ira Gershwin”. Rock’s short film “Lunch with Jeremiah” in which he co-wrote, co-produced and co-starred has screened at the 2013 Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF), 2013 NYLA International Film Festival and the 2014 Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival.