The actor-singer said he discovered “The Chicken Song,” a gospel-infused ode to fried chicken in all of its various forms written by YouTuber Logan McWilliams, while perusing the web ahead of his acclaimed concert act at New York’s Feinstein’s/54 Below in April.
The 29-year-old invited Hall to perform the song with him live ― a moment that has been captured for posterity on the album, “Jay Armstrong Johnson: Live at Feinstein’s/54 Below,” which hits retailers Sept. 16.
Listen to “The Chicken Song” below, then scroll down to keep reading.
“I crave both gospel music and fried chicken, but above that, the musical construction of the actual song is genius,” Johnson told HuffPost. The track’s web-based genesis, he said, made Hall ― who boasts over 2.2 million YouTube followers ― an ideal duet partner. “Given its parodic nature, it seemed like a perfect fit to ask one of YouTube’s biggest stars to join me on the tune,” Armstrong said. “I’m so glad he did.”
The track is the pair’s second musical collaboration this year. In June, Armstrong sang on “Color,” a song on Hall’s Beyoncé-style visual album, “Straight Outta Oz.” The video showed Hall and Armstrong canoodling amidst flowers and waterfalls, shifting from black and white to color in a nod to “The Wizard of Oz.”
If Armstrong and Hall’s chemistry seems natural, that’s because the men, who both hail from Texas, met as teens while working for Mary Kay Cosmetics Industrial.
“To watch a friend reach such heights as a truly multi-faceted artist and business person has been one of my driving inspirational forces,” he said. “He paved the way for a new medium of art with YouTube.”
Co-produced with composer Will Van Dyke, “Jay Armstrong Johnson: Live at Feinstein’s/54 Below” is very much a labor of love for the star, who is best known to New York audiences for his Broadway roles in “Hands on a Hardbody” and the 2014 revival of “On The Town.”
Armstrong raised money to preserve his Feinstein’s/54 Below concert, which charted his path from bullied gay teen to stage and TV performer through songs by Rascal Flatts, Sam Smith and others, on the new album via an Indiegogo campaign. Having fans from around the world support his endeavor gave the project an extra layer of significance, he said.
“I’ve known that I’ve wanted to do a concert of this nature for a while, and I was just waiting for the right time,” he told HuffPost in April. “It feels like my audience has broadened from just the theater world to people who watch network TV from their comfort of their couches in Montana or California.”
Here’s to hoping “The Chicken Song” is just one savory morsel in Armstrong’s musical journey.