Roosevelt Andre Credit was born with a big voice and a big heart, but don’t think for a moment that the life of a professional performer is easy – even when he has a significant role in a Broadway musical rated by Time magazine as “The Best Musical of the Year.”
But the 1990 Oregon State University grad wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I am,” says Credit, “living the dream.”
Credit has a feature role in the Gershwins’ “Porgy and Bess,” which is drawing rave reviews from some of the top media outlets in the country. He nailed down the ensemble part of Jim the Fisherman, where his booming bass baritone fills the auditorium and allows him to share the stage with stars Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis and David Alan Grier.
Just look at the reviews for Porgy and Bess.
- “A great achievement that left me breathless” – The New Yorker
- “A luscious piece of musical theater” – Newsday
- “A gorgeous version of the Gershwin masterpiece” – Associated Press
For the 44-year-old Credit, it has been an interesting journey that began when he majored in music education at OSU. He gravitated toward opera, but was visible throughout campus, singing the national anthem at basketball games and commencement ceremonies, and performing in countless plays, concerts, school and community functions. He was also director of music at the First Christian Church of Corvallis.
“My teachers at Oregon State whipped me into shape,” he says with a laugh. “I loved it there. Charlotte Headrick, Kathryn Olson, Ron and Becky Jeffers, Judy Krueger and others taught me a lot and made me realize I could be successful. And I’ve always enjoyed performing.”
“As one of my mentors, Will Keim, once told me – ‘find something you like to do and if you do it well enough, people will pay you for it.’”
Credit’s talent is natural, but getting to Broadway takes hard work – and a lot of it. After earning his music degree at OSU, he
earned master’s degrees at Northwestern in conducting and opera performance, and he sings in Italian, French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Russian – and dabbles with numerous other languages.
He said he enjoys the challenge because it allows him to perform and understand the music of other cultures, while expressing musical phrases with his voice and with his hands.
“The best compliment someone can give you is to say ‘you make it look easy,’” Credit says. “You don’t want to be up on stage looking like you’re struggling.”
Daily warm-ups and practice allows Credit to master the many languages and expand his range. In his two-decade career, he has performed at President Obama’s inauguration; played the role of Jesus in Bach’s Saint Matthew and St. John Passion; starred as Joe in Showboat; and was a cast member of the Broadway and national touring companies of Harold Prince’s Tony Award-winning revival of Showboat.
He also has been a featured guest artist during the Centennial Celebration of Duke Ellington at Jazz at Lincoln Center – with Wynton Marsalis and Eric Reed.
“You can only get so far on natural talent,” Credit says, “then you must practice, practice, practice. At 44, I’m just coming into my voice. Many years of private lessons, classes and practice have paid off. Basses mature a lot later in life and I think I keep improving. But as a singer, you’ve got to take care of the instrument. So I also try to get rest and keep hydrated. It’s all good.”
Credit is humble and grateful for his success – and gives back generously to the community. He twice has received the Theron Montgomery Award, given by the Broadway community for charitable work; he supports organizations fighting cystic fibrosis, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and Metropolitan Ministries. He volunteers with disabled children; and loves directing choruses around the country as they perform his published choral music and solo arrangements from his book, “Ol’ Time Religion,” featuring spirituals.
He’s even earned an Eagle Scout ranking with the Boy Scouts of America.
“Giving back is important,” Credit says. “When I got started, I was told ‘no’ a lot and I sang a lot for free. But I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s…”