A GoPride Interview

David Burnham

David Burnham interview with ChicagoPride.com

Wed. December 7, 2011  by Michael J. Roberts

David Burnham

Michael J. Roberts interviews actor and singer David Burnham, who just released his second solo recording

I recently had the chance to catch up with David Burnham, who has just released his second solo recording, ‘One Day' which is a collection of popular and original songs. David is best known to Chicago audiences as the handsome Fabrizio in the national touring company of ‘The Light In The Piazza' which played to sold out crowds at the Auditorium Theatre. David first gained fame replacing Donny Osmond in ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' and created the role of Fiyero in ‘Wicked'. Mr. Burnham has also lent his pipes to several animated features including Warner Bros. ‘The King & I', Disney's ‘Home On The Range' and a recent episode of ‘South Park'.

MJR: (Michael J. Roberts) Hi David, it is great to talk with you again. Your new album "One Day" is fantastic. How did you go about picking out the material for the c.d.?

DB: (David Burnham) ‘One Day' came out of a camp that I have with Mark Vogel called Camp Sing which we produce each summer. When we first started it, the goal was to make it into a reality show, that still is the goal actually, but we wanted to establish Camp Sing as a real camp first, which we did last year. We have about 50 kids and split them into glee teams which the teams compete. The winning team gets to go into the studio and record a song with me, written by Mark Vogel, which is an inspirational, uplifting song. So by the end of summer, we had 3 really great songs from each team produced and so we decided to build an album around them. I was looking to do a new album anyway, and since the songs were more geared toward pop, I thought they might appeal more to my younger fans. I have always wanted to record some classic pop songs so it was my chance to do that as well.

MJR: The new album is dedicated to your Mom whom I know you recently lost. What influence did she have over your life and your music career?

DB: My mom was really and amazing person. She passed away from cancer a few years back. She was always so supportive of me and in everything I did. When I was 8 years old, I grew up on a farm and it was the first place I ever did a concert. It was in the back of our barn and our pigs were my very first audience. I used to serenade them with show tunes. West Side Story was the pigs favorite! One day, after a particularly fantastic rendition of ‘I Feel Pretty', my little 8 year old self ran back to the house to tell my mom that she needs to write to MGM and tell them that I am now good enough to sing with Natalie Wood. So my Mom took a pencil and paper and wrote "Dear MGM, my son David is now good enough to sing with Natalie Wood. Sincerely, Joanie Burnham." She signed it, sealed it, put it in an envelope and sent it off. Then she leaned down to me and said "David, whatever you do with your live, do what makes you happy." I have always carried that with me. She had unconditional love for me.

MJR: How did you pick the song ‘Fly Again'?

DB: I was looking for something to sing to my mom and I came across ‘Fly Again' written by David Phelps and it felt just like I had written it. It said everything I wanted to say. We grew up in the church as a church family, but my Mom was not necessarily religious. She was more spiritual which she imparted to me. I appreciate that so much because the church can get a bit hypocritical. But my Mom was about preaching all types of love. When I found this song I knew I needed to record it.

MJR: I lost my Mom to cancer as well and related to Fly Again as you did, and I actually found the whole album spiritual, even with such an eclectic mixture of songs.

DB: I'm so glad you said that because all the songs speak to love on some inspirational level. That was my Mom. There are bubble gum pop songs on the album which she loved as well more traditional ones. Each song speaks to her in a different way.

MJR: Tell me about some the songs you have written for the album.

DB: That was so much fun Michael. I co-wrote a bunch of the songs with Mark Vogel and this was the first time I really had the chance to sit down, write, produce and record. It was so much fun to come up with the idea of a lyric then work with Mark on the melody. It takes a while. It is not as easy as people may assume. It is kind of like giving birth to a baby that you are really, really proud of. People ask me what my favorite song is and I have to say I don't have one because they all come from a personal place.

MJR: How did you enjoy your latest Broadway stint as Fiyero in ‘Wicked'?

DB: Oh that little simple show (laughing). I love being about of Wicked. Love it. I had so many Elphabas though. One week I had 6 different Elphabas! It was crazy Michael. One was leaving the show and the other wasn't ready to go on so her understudy went on. Then they kept getting sick and going out of town. It was the most bizarre week I ever spent in a show. Everyday I was kissing a different green girl.

MJR: What do you attribute ‘Wicked's' success to?

DB: The fans are like nothing I have ever seen. It was also great for me to get to do it on Broadway because I got to come full circle with it since I created the role of Fiyero in Los Angeles. So they reunited me with my first Elphaba from the workshop, Stephanie Block and we both got to be on Broadway together.

MJR: You and I first met when you were touring in ‘The Light In The Piazza', which actually started in Chicago at the Goodman before it went to Broadway. What are you memories of Piazza.

DB: The most dearest show to my heart. It was such a whirlwind. First replacing Matthew Morrison on Broadway then having the chance to tour with it. That show is what shaped me as an actor.

MJR: What is next for you?

DB: Well, I am going to spend some time promoting this album, doing concerts and getting the word out.

MJR: It was great talking with you again and I hope you come to Chicago soon with your concert.

DB: Me too Michael, let's make that happen!

David's new album ‘One Day' can be purchased on Amazon.com. For more information on David Burnham, including Camp Sing, please visit his website at www.davidburnham.com.

Interviewed by Michael J. Roberts. Michael J. Roberts is theatre editor for the ChicagoPride.com covering Chicago's diverse arts and entertainment scene.


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