IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Wire' and 'Fringe' star makes music, too

Lance Reddick hopes his knack for picking hits in the television realm translates to his music career.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Lance Reddick hopes his knack for picking hits in the television realm translates to his music career.

Reddick recently released his first album, "Contemplations and Remembrances." The record has a jazzy flair that Reddick has worked on for more years than he cares to remember.

Although he's best known for his role as Lt. Cedric Daniels on the hit HBO series "The Wire" and currently stars on the Fox series "Fringe" as agent Phillip Broyles, Reddick, 41, is also a musician. He attended the prestigious Eastman School of Music, where he studied classical composition, and plays piano.

Back when he was young, married and raising a child, Reddick found work as an actor, but never forgot his dream of becoming a recording artist. So with a little prodding, and a lot of time to contemplate, Reddick is proudly embarking on a recording career.

The Associated Press: Which came first music or acting? I'm assuming it was music.

Reddick: Absolutely. Growing up I never imagined I would be an actor.

AP: What gave you the courage to pursue a music career?

Reddick: I grew up studying music. I went to conservatory. When I grew up I thought I was going to be a classical composer, and then I left music school because I was in denial because I wanted to be a rock star. I started acting after a few years of struggling.

AP: What were the struggles?

Reddick: I got married straight out of school. I started acting, almost on a whim to help my music career. ... There were songs I had written from while (I was) in my 20s. ... I would sing them around the house from time to time. My daughter said to me one day — this was about 10 years ago — "You should do something with that." I said, "Sweetheart, I think the time's passed. I think I'm too old." She said, "Daddy, that sounds like an excuse to me."

AP: How old was she at the time?

Reddick: She was about 11 or 12.

AP: So we do learn from our kids, wouldn't you say?

Reddick: Oh yeah. She's rather precocious, too.

AP: There seems to be a stigma when actors embark on a music career. How do you address that?

Reddick: I'm aware of the stereotype. I was a musician first. It's tough. I'm not really into defending myself because for me with this particular project, the music speaks for itself. It's mostly jazz, it's so not a mainstream thing. For me if people like it, they like it. If they don't, they don't.

AP: You said you wanted to be a rock star, what made you lean more toward jazz?

Reddick: My style of writing never quite fit. It always seemed that what I wanted to do was a little more sophisticated than what was mainstream. And given the way genres tend to be — whether we admit it or not — tend to be segregated. It also seemed that it wasn't black enough. It wasn't R&B. And then I discovered Sting. ... I became obsessed with him and thinking this guy is doing the kind of stuff I wanted to do. ... But at some point, I started listening to a lot of Miles Davis. I just felt that for what I wanted to do, jazz was the way to go.

AP: Can you clarify not black enough?

Reddick: My manager is probably going to shoot me. You don't see a lot of black rock stars. The music industry tends to be segregated stylistically. It's hard for a black artist to cross over to rock music.

AP: How did you end up doing so many groundbreaking television series?

Reddick: I was never interested in television. I always saw it as a means to an end. Like so many actors, I was only interested in doing theater and film. But "Oz" changed television. It was the beginning of HBO's reign on quality, edgy, artistic stuff. Stuff that harkens back to great cinema of the '60s and '70s. When the opportunity for "Oz" came up, I jumped. And when I read the pilot for "The Wire," as a guy that never wanted to be on television, I realized I had to be on this show.

AP: You have appeared on stage before, now that you've released an album, would you ever consider doing musical theater?

Reddick: That depends. I would love to do "Man of La Mancha," and if they filmed the musical version of "The Color Purple," I would love to play Mister.