*If you have seen the colossal “Hamilton, the Musical,” which debuted on Broadway in 2015, you probably saw and heard the power that is Syndee Winters.
The musical is about Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States. Winters joined the production in September 2016 as a principal stand-by for three roles including Hamilton’s wife and mistress, which gave her a chance to shine.
“I could be notified in a moment’s notice to go on,” Winters said. “I like that kind of variety and spontaneity. It’s fun for me. We have over 400 shows a year. So, it was my job to support the show, and I loved it. It was a beautiful show to be a part of and a great experience.”
Before “Hamilton,” Winters’ professional career began after high school as a dancer with the New York Knicks’ City Dancers. Winters soon danced for American Idol’s Jordan Sparks. Additionally, with the help of mutual contacts, she worked with Snoop Dogg, Big Daddy Kane, and writing/performing on four tracks for DJ Grandmaster Flash’s 2009 album, “The Bridge.”
“That was a great experience as a new songwriter,” said the New York born, Miami raised Winters. “I was super privileged.”
Also during that time, she honed her Broadway/general singing skills as a wedding singer.
“I was with the wedding band for three years and learned so much. I got to practice a lot because people were partying and paying attention to each other. I had a ball. I couldn’t pay for that experience. I think that was a big influence in how I perform and the next step of my life going into theater and auditioning for ‘The Lion King.’”
While Winters did not land the role of Nala in her first audition for “The Lion King” in 2010, she came back two years later and nailed it after being asked a simple question by a friend at lunch, ‘What are you wearing?’”
Winters continued, “That was the last thing I’m thinking about. I was in the mindset of wearing the traditional musical theater costume that college prepared me to wear – skirt, leggings, and character shoes and he said, ‘Syndee, that’s not you on any day.’ When my audition came, I wore a black turtleneck, black jeans, black boots, black leather jacket, black eyeliner, and red lipstick – fierce in full effect.”
Winters went from Broadway with “The Lion King” and toured North America as Nala. That led to other Broadway roles including performing in the revival production of “Pippin” in 2014 as the leading player, a role originally made famous by Ben Vereen, and as Diana Ross that same year in “Motown the Musical.”
“It was such an honor to be considered and qualified enough to play such an incredible energy and performer,” said Winters. “I’ve been a fan of Diana Ross for many years as a singer, performer, and actress. So, it was really an honor to be asked to play her.”
Winters would also like to play another icon on Broadway – Lena Horne. She has written a one-woman play tentatively titled “Lena: A Moment with a Lady” (see trailer) and has already traveled to small venues to show off what she has in store.
“I know she was legendary, but her personal story, I really wasn’t familiar with,” said Winters who has a Lena Horne tribute CD coming out soon. “So, I bought a ton of books, I read a lot of public information online, and watched interviews. Then I started to see how parallel our lives kind of were, especially in a time when things were highly controversial and now still trying to ride racial lines and being an activist for people without voices.”
While Winters Loves Broadway, she also wants to get back to writing music for other artists and creating more of her own music. In fact, she is currently working on a pop debut album. To get a taste of her personal sound, check out her track, “Focus” that was released in 2016 and is now available on iTunes.“Focus is a combination of what I like to call high vibration trap music,” said Winters. “Trap music has a very distinct beat and catchy melody but a lot of times, they aren’t talking about anything constructive. So, I added a Buddhist chant just to elevate the consciousness of it. It’s a meditative chant and I dedicated it to my – I call them urban Buddhists. The chant means whatever you put into something that’s what you get out of it.”
The projects keep coming for Winters. She earned her first television role in this season’s premiere episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” called “Gone Fishin.’” She played the teacher of Olivia Benson’s son. Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay, gave Winters nothing but love on the set and showed her in a special tweet.
“It’s so beautiful to see someone so accomplished, so in control, and yet so warm, and supportive,” said Winters. “It meant the world to me.”
Winters has been auditioning for both TV/movie roles with hopes we may see her in the near future. Meanwhile, you can currently see her on screens before a Barclays Center Nets game letting people know about the code of conduct. For more information on Winters, including where you can see her next in person, check out her website here. You can also hit her up on Instagram and Twitter.
Photo Credit: Patch