Singing in his high school chorus provided Keith Spencer with an opportunity he never had imagined.
“At the time, I was a brass player in a jazz band. I played the trombone. One day, the band director found a vocal chart, and since he knew I was in chorus thought I might know the tune, which was Memory from Cats,” Spencer recalled.
“So he shoved a microphone in my hand and told me to sing. The problem was I didn’t know the melody line, so I sang the baritone part. The director had me go back and learn the melody for an upcoming concert. And with my knees knocking, I came out front, started to sing, and absolutely loved it. From then on, I was hooked,” said Spencer, who was so hooked he went on to become a professional singer.
He is appearing at Bristol Riverside Theater in Lights Up On Broadway through Aug. 21.
Spencer is a BRT veteran — he said he’s appeared on stage at Bristol more times than he can count. The show consists of hits from such favorite musicals as The Producers, The Music Man, Showboat and many more. But before Spencer went on to become a professional singer, he attended Penn State, where he majored in marketing.
“I always had a penchant for business as well as medicine. But I quickly realized I couldn’t keep doing all the music I wanted to do if I went to med school, so I needed to figure out how to keep music in my life,” he said. “That left the business route for me, which I’m now happy about since I have a great full-time job in information technology. Today, my only challenge is finding time for my music.”
Happily, too — though not necessarily for his parents — Spencer got an opportunity to become a featured soloist with Disney World’s premiere a cappella ensemble, Voices of Liberty, in Orlando. He jumped at the chance to perform with Disney, which was a dream job. But that meant he had to leave college for a year.
“But I promised my mother I would go back to school, and I did,” he added.
Since then, Spencer has pursued his love of music with many professional companies, ranging from BRT to Philadelphia’s Prince Theater to the Broadway tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Music of the Night starring Betty Buckley.
Other notable roles include Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, Joe in Showboat, Billy in Carousel and so many more. He’s also done concert performances and backup vocals for such artists as Roberta Flack and Rosemary Clooney.
Spencer, 39, whose wife Amy is an opera singer, is a new father who also regularly performs as a vocalist with the jazz performance ensemble Jump City Music.
“How lucky can one man get?” he muses. “I am extremely content with my life. I consider myself incredibly blessed to have a nice, balanced life and have the opportunity to do all that I do.”
He admitted that he’s never done Broadway yet, and doesn’t care if he ever does.
“Appearing on Broadway takes diligence and connections and many other things,” he said. “I know some wonderful singers who haven’t yet been on the Broadway stage. But Broadway’s not everything. You have to figure out what else balances your life and if performing anywhere you can makes you happy. To me, I can do good regional theater and tours and concert work, as well as have a beautiful family, too. That absolutely works for me!” ••
For times and ticket information, call 215-785-0100.