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Darrian Ford Cooks Up a Pot of Soul with New Musical, the Cooke Book

Monday, August 11, 2014 HALFSTACK MAGAZINE

Chicago native, Darrian Ford is not your average actor who reads a line or two from a script, get paid and calls it even. Only extras in a film or a music video does that. In fact, Darrian Ford does not think that he’s a star, which is hard to believe considering the fact that his resume is so extensive, it’s longer than his leg and not to mention that he has co-starred with Halle Berry in a biopic based on the African- American iconic entertainer, Dorothy Dandridge, who has paved the way for singers and actresses of today to not only display their good looks, but their brains and talent, as well.  “I don’t look myself as a star. I see myself as God’s vessel and honestly, that is more than I can ask for,” he says with a smile.  Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Darrian Ford’s first foray was dance. “When I was younger, I took dance at a local YMCA establishment. It was something I loved to do because dance was what really moved me in addition to acting.”

 

During his adolescent years, Darrian Ford attended High School Academy of Performing Arts, an establishment where he learned the craft and beauty of theatre in addition to dance. “Yes, my acting skills are versatile and I have done a little bit of TV and film, true, but theatre is home,” he explains, taking a sip of his cup of coffee. Slowly, he places the cup of coffee down on the table and resumes the dialogue, anticipating for my next question.

Suddenly, his eyes and smile shine brighter than before when I ask him to describe the feeling of working with one of the most talented actresses of all time, Halle Berry. “Wow,” he exclaims, laughing. “She was a really sweet woman. I had a professional dance background so it was easy for me to Truthfully, I did not know a lot about their story.  The real Faynard Nicholas along with other historians had come onto the set and filled us in on the backstory of the screenplay,” he pauses. He adds: “Poor Halle. She took singing and dancing lessons for months on end so she could get the part down pat.” Amazed, I take a bite out of my oatmeal cookie that his publicist had kindly purchased for me as I begin to write down more notes about Darrian’s experience portraying Faynard Nicholas from the Nicholas Brothers’ fame. “I was not a good tap dancer,” he confesses. “I was taught how to tap.”  Acting and dancing are not the only things that he is interested in. When Darrian is not on stage- or on television, performing his tail off for the masses; he sits at home and listens to jazz musicians such as, [Nancy Wilson], Mel Torne, [Nat King Cole], Tony Bennett, and others.” 






Although Darrian Ford is a fan of jazz music, he’s a fan of soul music as well. Hence, that’s when Darrian decided to create a tribute to the soul music legend, Sam Cooke. “I grew up listening to Sam Cooke. I began working on the musical around 2006. Most of his recordings were non-existent at the time, which was odd because they were really good,” he says. “I was blown away by excellent his other songs were, yet wondered why they were never recorded like the other recordings.”  Time may heal all wounds, but the one thing time does besides moving forward is making people wonder what they would have done differently, if given the opportunity to do so. “If I could reset time, I would have believed that my voice was a gift a lot sooner. I feel that my understanding and purpose was in late in my career, but not too late.” 

Darrian Ford’s musical, The Cooke Book, starts August 4th 2014 at 8 p.m. at the City Winery on 1200 W. Randolph and August 29th 2014 at 8 p.m. at the Lincoln Hall at 2424 N. Lincoln Avenue.

Til next time,
Dana Rettig - Arts, Culture & Entertainment Blogger

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