Jussie Smollett, who plays the gay son of “Empire’s” Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) and ex-wife, Cookie Lyon'(Taraji P. Henson), will soon get a little taste of life as a musician on a major label and not just play one on TV! During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Smollett announced that he recently signed with Columbia Records. However, this is not his first stab at this music thing. In 2012, he released his digital debut EP titled, The Poisoned Hearts Club and he was working on a new project while acting on the hit TV show. Although Smollett’s first album may not have charted, it was impressive enough to lead Ebony Magazine to coin him ‘Harlem’s George Michael.’ Additionally, Smollett along with other “Empire” cast members and A-list artists such as Estelle, Jennifer Hudson, Patti Labelle and Mary J. Blige under the guidance of super producer Timbaland, perform the songs to be featured on the show. The “Empire” soundtrack is scheduled to hit the streets on March 10th and includes a few Smollett originals like “I Want To Love You’” and “You’re So Beautiful,” a collaboration with producer and songwriter Jim Beanz.
Needless to say, Smollett has a bit of a head start, when it comes to building his fan base as he can draw on the success of “Empire”…only the most talked about show of the year. In case, you’ve been sleeping, we are here to let you know the show is a hit! The ratings tell it all. Viewership has grown with every show since it premiered in January with 9.9 million viewers. Seven weeks later the show has 13.9 million viewers and counting. As a matter of fact “Empire,” is the first show since 1991 to grow in number of total viewers with each episode following its premiere, silencing anyone who still doubts there is a place on television for shows with diversity on and off screen. Take that Hollywood!
Every Wednesday fans tune in eager to see where show creators, Lee Daniels and Danny Strong are going to take them next. The mix of complicated relationships, suspense and the abundance of musical talent showcased in every episode along with the way the topics of mental illness and homophobia are brilliantly tied into the story line are definitely key elements to show’s formula for success.
When asked by Entertainment Weekly about his feelings on his new found fame, Smollett responds,
I kind of feel like how Michael Jackson must have felt after “Thriller” was out and he had to come out with “Bad.” Here we are through the first season and we’re five months out until we start the second season, and I’m like, “What the hell are y’all gonna do next?” Because it’s going to be very difficult to top this season.
While there is only one Michael Jackson, Smollett’s appears to have a promising career ahead of him and quite possibly may prove himself to be a double threat. If the sample of artistry that he has shared with us on screen represents what we can look forward to in a new album, we are all ears!