March 26, 2017

YouTube star Todrick Hall takes the stage at Eden Seminary

The Wehrli chapel at Eden Seminary might be used to hymns, but YouTube star Todrick Hall brought a different kind of music to the campus on Oct. 10. Hall’s performance blended irreverent pop culture references with inspirational advice to his audience and gleeful embrace of camp gay culture, the combination that has made him a social media sensation.

Hall’s appearance attracted a crowd of enthusiastic fans. Webster student Chandler Montgomery was one of them.  

“[Hall] just has so much energy and he’s such a great performer, and he brings joy and happiness and energy and excitement to every performance,” Montgomery said.

Todrick Hall performs for Webster University students. CAROLYNNE BARROW / The Journal

Todrick Hall performs for Webster University students. CAROLYNNE BARROW / The Journal

The event, part of his touring “Todrick Hall Experience”, featured both original and cover songs as well as a Q&A portion. Hall even brought some Webster students onstage to show off their “twerking” skills. The event was sponsored by the Multicultural Center and International Student Association (MCISA).

Hall had his big break when he made it to the semi-finals of the ninth season of American Idol. Since then, he has enjoyed success as a YouTuber, gaining popularity for songs that ranges from sincere tributes to the “It Gets Better” campaign, to Disney parodies. He has made several appearances on reality TV and even choreographed a music video for Beyonce.

Hall’s own story as a black gay man who comes from a part of Texas where, he says, “no one who wasn’t white ever got to go to Disney world” is a large part of his act, as is his message to fans to believe in themselves.

“I believe that God never gives you something that you can’t handle, and as soon as you can push through it, something great is on the other side of the door,” Hall said.

Hall’s most recent project is “Straight Outta Oz,” a visual album based on “The Wizard of Oz” that he says is inspired by “Zootopia, Hamilton, and Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’.” The album is available on iTunes.

Hall’s celebrity star is continuing to rise. He will be a judge on the upcoming season of reality TV show “Rupaul’s Drag Race” and is set to take over the lead role in the Broadway musical “Kinky Boots.”  

The event took place at the Wehrli Chapel on the Eden Seminary campus. CAROLYNNE BARROW / The Journal

The event took place at the Wehrli Chapel on the Eden Seminary campus. CAROLYNNE BARROW / The Journal

Webster student Quentin Ward said the level of success that Hall has achieved as an African-American gay performer is inspiring.

“He’s overcome two trials, and now everybody knows who he is and how successful he’s been,” Ward said. “It’s really amazing to see.”

Hall encourages his viewers to be themselves. For him, it has been a winning business strategy. During his stint on American Idol, the Texas native worried about alienating fans by coming out of the closet. But his post-Idol career has been built around reaching a gay audience. His first single, “It Gets Better”, adopted the themes of the popular anti-suicide campaign that encouraged LGBT young people to make it through tough times.

“I’ve had over 3000 kids send me messages saying that this song changed their life, or in some case saved their life,” Hall said.

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