Lelund Durond Thompson received his BFA from North Carolina A&T State University, where he was recognized with several Paul Robeson Awards for acting. Thompson received his MFA from the CASE/Cleveland Play House Actor Training Program, where he was the first African American to graduate the program. After graduation, Thompson moved to New York City where he has continued to work professionally as an actor, writer, photographer, and coach.
He was commissioned (with Dove Award®-winning producer/writer Jason Michael Webb) to write an original musical for Classical Theater of Harlem, The First Noel, which will premiere this December at the world-famous Apollo Theater. Songs that he has written can be found on the albums Love Lead the Way (Brooklyn Tabernacle, 2013), This is the Day (JB Spiritual Singers, 2010), and Wildflower, the debut album from Tshidi Manye of Disney'sThe Lion King. Another collaboration with Webb (Light It Up!, recorded by vocalist, Martha Wash) was selected by Bloomingdale’s to unveil their Christmas windows in 2011.
In 2011, Thompson founded YellaFella Entertainment and began producing and directing theater in NYC (Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, Laurence Maslon’s The Devine One: Sassy Swings Tokyo, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts); serving as associate producer and Director of Photography for music videos and webseries (Homegirls); writing; and helping to coach and develop talent. His work from the photography arm of YellaFella (YF Fotography) has been published in the New York Times, in Playbills for Broadway productions, and has included shoots for Ricky Martin, Daniel Radcliffe, and Perez Hilton. Thompson also serves as personal acting coach for film and television actors such as Diane Guerrero (Orange is the New Black, Jane the Virgin) and Ato Essandoh (Django Unchained, Martin Scorsese's Vinyl).
LELUND DUROND THOMPSON
Two-time Stellar Award® nominee and Dove Award® winner, Jason Michael Webb was born in Neptune, New Jersey, where at the age of four he began his musical training, studying primarily classical piano. Within a year of completing advanced study with Paul Hoffman at Rutgers University (earning a Bachelor of Music degree in Classical Piano Performance), Mr. Webb made his orchestral solo debut with the Queens Symphony and became the Assistant Musical Director of its gospel choir.
In 2006, Mr. Webb was invited to become Musical Director of the six-timeGrammy Award®-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle, where his songwriting, arranging and orchestrating continued to thrive (including the album I’ll Say Yes, nominated for a 2009 Grammy Award®). Pairing with gospel music pioneer Carol Cymbala, he has since written and produced four albums for The Brooklyn Tabernacle, including Declare Your Name (for which he received two 2010 Stellar Award® nominations and one 2011 Dove Award® win) and A Brooklyn Tabernacle Christmas (for which he received one 2012 Dove Award® nomination). The third, Love Lead the Way, includes his and Mrs. Cymbala’s critically-acclaimed arrangement of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, featured during the 2013 inauguration of President Barack Obama and simultaneously heard by one billion people worldwide [“a powerful, stirring rendition” (Diane Sawyer, ABC)]. The fourth, Pray, was released in Feb 2015 and quickly occupied the #1 spot on iTunes in theGospel/Christian Albums category.
His orchestrations have been performed and/or recorded by the Jacksonville Symphony, Nashville String Machine and the Harlem String Quartet at Carnegie Hall. His songs, including those sung by gospel artists Israel Houghton, Paul Baloche and Jonathan Butler, have been translated into numerous languages throughout Asia, Europe and South America, broadcast on major networks and print-published by renowned Christian music publisher Word Music.
Mr. Webb is currently the Musical Director of the Broadway Revival of "The Color Purple", directed by John Doyle, as well as Music Supervisor for Elizabeth Davis' "Indian Joe", a musical making its world premiere at Goodspeed Musicals in the Fall of 2015 (music & lyrics by Elizabeth Davis, Luke Holloway and Jason Michael Webb). Other recent credits include Musical Director (also Additional Arrangements and Orchestrations) for Kwame Kwei-Armah's "Marley: The Musical", based on the life of legendary musician and cultural icon, Bob Marley, at Baltimore's Center Stage Theater; Associate Musical Director for Berry Gordy’s "Motown: The Musical" on Broadway; and Musical Director and Vocal Arranger for the US Premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s acapella play, "Choir Boy" [“Evocative vocal arrangements… These sequences are among the most pleasurable in the play” (New York Times), “Jason Michael Webb’s arrangements…are, like the play itself, expertly tuned.” (NY Daily News)]. "Choir Boy" is currently being produced in multiple cities across the US.
Other Broadway credits include Associate Musical Director for Memphis (winner of the 2010 Best Musical Tony Award®), Associate Musical Director for Jeanine Tesori’s Violet (nominee for 2014 Best Revival Tony Award®), Alan Menken's Leap of Faith (nominee for 2012 Best Musical Tony Award®), and his Broadway debut as Assistant Conductor and rehearsal pianist for Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple, working closely with the cast, including Chaka Khan, Bebe Winans and Fantasia. He also recently completed a run as Musical Director for Pasek & Paul’s Dogfight at 2econd Stage (directed by Joe Mantello).
Upcoming original stage productions written by Mr. Webb include the First Noel, a world-premiere musical co-produced by Classical Theater of Harlem and Harlem's world-famous Apollo Theater and slated for a Dec 2015 run at the Apollo itself (book, music & lyrics by Lelund Durond Thompson and Jason Michael Webb), as well as a limited Winter 2015 run at North Carolina A&T University; and Light it Up!, a world-premiere musical currently in development (book & lyrics by Lelund Durond Thompson, music & lyrics by Jason Michael Webb).
Mr. Webb has appeared as a musician onstage with Dame Shirley Bassey, Michael Bolton, Cece Winans, and Chaka Khan, and was the pianist for Fantasia’s performance at the 2007 Tony Awards® ceremony. His work as a studio musician has landed him in studios from New York City to Nashville, recently completing work with Mariah Carey on her Oh Santa!/All I Want for Christmas is You release [Island Records].
For the past few years, Mr. Webb has been commissioned by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ Carols for a Cure recording project to write/arrange and orchestrate a diverse set of 30+ songs, including original songs sung by the companies of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Matilda and Motown: The Musical. In 2011, Bloomingdales selected one of those compositions as the theme song to celebrate the unveiling of their holiday windows: Light It Up!, recorded and performed by Martha Wash and the company of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. This year’s project includes songs he has written for Keke Palmer, Ryan Shaw and the casts of seven Broadway shows.