–Dr. Moshe Paranov, co-founder of the Hartt School of Music, described Phillip Boykin as follows: “A talented and gifted man with extraordinary charisma and major stage presence that electrifies and captivates audiences.”
Phillip Boykin, a native of Greenville, South Carolina, became involved in many musical activities that helped to enhance his special talents. He began his vocal and theater training at the Phillis Wheatley Repertory Theater For Youth, directed and created by his adopted father the late Dwight E. Woods, The Greenville Fine Arts Center and The South Carolina Governor’s School of the Arts. His exceptional gifts led him to explore the musical world of opera and musical theater. His studies in opera began at South Carolina State where he was encouraged to audition for the North Carolina School of the Arts to study with professor Fredrick Moses. During his rewarding time at NCSA, he performed the role of Elder Ott in Susanna and traveled to Germany, France, and Italy as the bass-baritone soloist with the North Carolina School For The Arts Orchestra International Music Program.
He transferred to the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance. At Hartt, he performed in Recitals, Oratorios, Operas and Scenes with leading roles, as Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia and Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte. He performed as soloist with The Hartt School’s Chorus and Symphony Orchestra at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in NY. Some other guest appearances included performances with Connecticut Opera Express, Connecticut Concert Opera, Miami Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Russian National Symphony, Dayton Orchestra, Bristol Symphony, and the Greenville SC Symphony.
He then studied at Howard University, where he pursued a Masters degree in Opera and Jazz Vocals. While at Howard, he was a featured soloist with the Howard Singers in Spain, the US Virgin Islands, Washington, D. C., Philadelphia, and throughout the USA on a National Tour. Phillip’s performances have taken him to many prestigious concert venues. He was also featured in Washington at the Kennedy Center in the annual Mike Malone’s production of the hand-slapping gospel musical, Black Nativity by Langston Hughes. Phillip’s passion for music and working with young people was evident in his involvement with the Washington National Opera Company’s Opera’s Schools Program. This initiative was designed to provide youth with a first-hand look into Opera.
Phillip spent some years in Cleveland, Ohio where he was a member of the Cleveland Opera’s Associate Artist Roster. He performed roles in Operas Scenes that included Escamillo in Carmen, Marcello in La Boheme, Herr Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, Don Giovanni and Leporello in Don Giovanni, and Scarpia in Tosca. In addition, he performed at the Karamu Theater as Orpheus in the musical, Famous Orpheus. The Free Times News stated, “The Cast of Famous Orpheus is led by the very talented Phillip Boykin as the title character. His clear, vibrant, multi-octave voice easily lives up to Orpheus’ billing as the ‘famous’ singer.”
International tours have afforded him the opportunity to essay the roles of Crown, Jake, and Jim in “Porgy and Bess” throughout Germany, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Europe, and the United States. He toured with the Golden Gospel Singers as Star of the Show throughout Italy and Germany. He’s toured with the Harlem Gospel Singers as assistant Choir Director in Spain, Italy, and Germany. He also has performed throughout Asia with The New York Harlem Singers, of which he served as a feature baritone soloist, the Director and Company Manager.
During the National Tour of the dramatic-musical Show Boat, reviewers acclaimed him in the role of Joe as “Volcanic”, “A Warehouse Bass”, “Magnificent and Breathtaking, Memorable”. Similarly, the staff writer of The Spokane news wrote, “And it’s hard to imagine a voice stronger than that of Phillip Boykin, who sang the best rendition of “Ol’ Man River” that I can remember”.
Although he had traveled the world, his heart longed for a chance to make it in New York City. In 2005 that dream became a reality and after many auditions and readings an opportunity was presented that put him on the path to living his dream.
In 2011, he made his New York City Opera Debut as Inspector Watts in the new opera by Tony nominee and Academy Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz’s, Séance’ On A Wet Afternoon in which he earned great reviews.
In 2012, he made his Broadway debut as Crown in the 2012 TONY award winning Best Revival of a Musical, The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, at the Richard Rodgers Theater in NY with the 5-time TONY Award Winner Audra McDonald, TONY nominee Norm Lewis and 3-time TONY nominee David Alan Grier. Mr. Boykin now joins this phenomenal list of Broadway stars with his own TONY, Drama Desk, and an Outer Critic’s Circle Award Nomination. He received the 2012 Theater World Award for his Outstanding Broadway Debut.
In 2013, he made his Carnegie Hall debut in the Broadway Classics; presently he is featured in Leonard Bernstein, Betty Camden, & Adolph Green’s Broadway Revival of On The Town at the Lyric Theatre.
Phillip has extended his acting/singing beyond the Broadway stage to making his debut in the Peter Cousens film Freedom starring Cuba Gooding Jr. His character, Big Hand, helps slaves escape through the Underground Railroad. He was most recently seen in as Andre’s driver in the Chris Rock movie Top Five.
–The legendary baritone, Dr. William Warfield, renowned for his performances in the 1951 movie Show Boat and the Opera Porgy and Bess declared, “Phillip has extraordinary gifts and I’m extremely proud to have worked with him.”