Q&A: Grammy-nominated singer Mykal Kilgore to perform in Chicago this month


Photo courtesy of Vogue

Artist Mykal Kilgore performs at the 2021 Met Gala.

Rayna Song, Arts & Entertainment Editor

R&B singer Mykal Kilgore, who performed at the 2021 Met Gala, spoke with The Daily about his songs and upcoming performance at The Promontory in Chicago on Feb. 19. Kilgore released his latest single “The Man in the Barbershop” in September 2021, and he was the first openly gay artist nominated in the “Best Traditional R&B Performance” category at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The Daily: Where did you draw your inspiration for “The Man In The Barbershop”?

Kilgore: It happened in real life a few years ago. I met a man in a barbershop, and I thought he was very handsome and interesting, but then he mentioned his girlfriend. We remained friends afterwards, and it has always been a sweet memory, since I was not treated badly because I was queer and decided to speak about that. It was someone who said, “I totally respect that. Thank you, but I’m just not interested.” 

The Daily: What message do you hope to send with the song?

Kilgore: I want to make it easier for people to tell the truth about who they are. I want people to see themselves reflected back and feel courage enough to do the same thing, to reflect themselves for others to see. I want this to be so common that it doesn’t feel strange to hear a man speak about another man in a loving way in a song.

The Daily: What was your experience performing at the Met Gala last September like?

Kilgore: As an independent artist and as a queer person who started their career in theatre in theme parks and cruise ships, to be able to ascend to such a place — it’s humbling to look around the room and feel, ‘Oh wow, all these stars are here,’ but it is also a reminder that the possibilities are endless.

The Daily: How does your identity impact your music? 

Kilgore: It impacts my work immensely because I have to live in this queer body, and I also have to live in a Black body. If you are an artist, it’s your job to do your best to get to know yourself and to feel your feelings. In this process of creating work and doing theatre and television and film, it really feels like I’m just trying to take masks off. The things that I can’t take off, I realized this is who I really am. And the audience can’t have my art without my queerness or without my Blackness. It’s in every note, every rhythm, every breath. 

The Daily: Do you have any advice for aspiring students at NU?

Kilgore: Focus on the craft. Don’t try to make art. We’ll figure out that something is art in years or generations. The focus should be on making good craft, like doing the things that you know, respecting your training and work ethic and being as excellent as you can, and then let the art take care of itself.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @RaynaYu_Song 

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