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Q&A with Renée Elise Goldsberry


Renée Elise Goldsberry will add another Iowa performance to her vast resumé on April 27, when she sings with the Des Moines Symphony at the Des Moines Civic Center. A singer, actress, songwriter, and so much more, Goldsberry portrayed Angelica Schuyler in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton, earning both a Tony Award and a Grammy Award. Other Broadway credits include The Lion King, Rent, The Color Purple, and Good People. 

She received two Daytime Emmy nominations for her role as Evangeline Williamson in “One Life to Live.” Her list of television and film work is long, and varied, and includes the musical comedy “Girls5eva,” which she calls a “joy bomb.” Her debut album will be released later this year. The Des Moines Performing Arts team caught up with Goldsberry on March 14, the day Season 3 of “Girls5eva” premiered on Netflix. 

This will be your second time performing with the Des Moines Symphony. (The first was in July 2019 at Water Works Park.) What can the audience expect from the show?  

A good friend once referred to my show as a “gumbo of music.” I love to steal that phrase, because it really speaks to the diversity of the music. There’s jazz and pop, folk and blues, country and gospel, Broadway tunes, and at least one original song from my upcoming album. The overarching theme is a celebration of love in all its forms. Expect a beautifully curated 90 minutes of music. 

Just Renée – and an entire symphony orchestra?  

Yes! I love it when I’m with a symphony, because I think people have ideas of what symphony music sounds like. They don’t realize that this extraordinary group of musicians and fabulous conductor can play anything. There’s nothing better than a blues song performed with a symphony orchestra. And my band will be on stage, too. They are genius, and it’s wonderful to have them combine with the orchestra. All that talent on stage makes me feel like I’m being lifted by such an awesome power.   

You’ve delivered so many special performances in your career. How do these concerts compare?  

I’m not on stage playing a character; I get to really be myself. I get to share stories of a long and pretty fun career. One of the greatest gifts from Hamilton is that I get to travel across the country and play in some of the most beautiful venues in the world. I want people to leave the show feeling like they spent that time in my family room hanging out with me. The stories I tell are as important to me as the songs.  

Talk more about the role Hamilton has played in your life and career.  

All of the musicals I’ve ever done are magical; every family I’ve made during those shows is forever family. What was so special about Hamilton is that I could be there from the beginning as part of the company that first launched that masterpiece into the world. That is every performer’s dream.  

All three seasons of the musical comedy “Girls5eva” are now available on Netflix. How was it working alongside Paula Pell, Busy Philipps, and Sara Bareilles?  

You know we started that series right in the middle of COVID. It was so healing to laugh with these incredibly powerful and ridiculously funny women. We play a one-hit-wonder girl group from the ’90s, who discover their one hit has been sampled by a current-day rapper. So, of course, they decide they are “back.” They come out of the various holes they find themselves in 20 years later and go on an incredible journey to be pop stars again. It’s a beautiful show because it really gives license to all of us to dream. And it is the funniest thing I’ve been involved in. 

Renée Elise Goldsberry

“If you haven’t heard your favorite style of music at my concert, wait two songs.” – Renée Elise Goldsberry 

Written by Lori Blachford

Renée Elise Goldsberry performing on stage

More about the artist: 

Renée Elise Goldsberry on … 


… Her upcoming album 

I started off as a songwriter; my acting and singing career just moved along much faster. And I’ve always loved all kinds of music. I’m grateful that the world feels the same now. The playlists we create are so diverse. Recording artists are going all over the place, no longer forced to be synonymous with one style of music. I felt free to put my favorite songs on the album and not deny any part of my sensibility or personality. 

… Musical influences 

I love Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, Simon & Garfunkel, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jonathan Larson, Nancy Wilson, Sweet Honey in the Rock. I think I had a Michael Jackson poster on my bedroom wall, too. I miss that intentionality of putting up posters of people we aspire to be. Today, I would put up Maya Angelou. 

… Thanks, Mom 

I have played so many different kinds of female characters in my career. When people ask who I look to for inspiration, my first answer is always my mother. She is someone who has survived a lot, who is constantly humble, who believes in something bigger than herself, who sees her greatest purpose as serving her family and community. These are strengths that transfer to any character I’ve ever played. But that woman cannot sing a note!