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LaChanze’s Birthday, Family, Bio

LaChanze: The Life and Career of an Extraordinary Stage ActressLaChanze is a renowned stage actress known for her powerful performances and captivating voice. Born on December 16, 1961, in St. Augustine, FL, she has mesmerized audiences around the world with her talent and versatility.

In this article, we will take a closer look at LaChanze’s life and career, tracing her journey from humble beginnings to becoming one of the most celebrated actresses in the world.


– Early life and upbringing:

– LaChanze was born Rhonda Denise Morris to a loving family in St. Augustine, FL. – She discovered her passion for singing and performing at a young age.

– Her upbringing was filled with music, as her parents introduced her to various genres and artists. – Education and training:

– LaChanze attended the prestigious Juilliard School, where she honed her skills and deepened her understanding of music and theater.

– Under the guidance of renowned mentors, she developed into a versatile and dynamic performer. – Career highlights:

– LaChanze made her Broadway debut in the 1985 musical “Uptown…

It’s Hot!”

– She received critical acclaim for her portrayal of Ti Moune in the 1990 musical “Once on This Island,” earning her a Tony Award nomination and establishing her as a talent to watch. – She further solidified her position as a leading lady on Broadway with her unforgettable performance as Celie in “The Color Purple” in 2005, winning a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

– Personal life:

– LaChanze is a devoted mother to her daughter, who tragically lost her life in the September 11 attacks. – Despite the immense personal tragedy, LaChanze has persevered and continued to shine on stage, dedicating her performances to her late daughter’s memory.

Before Fame

– Early challenges and setbacks:

– LaChanze faced numerous challenges on her path to success, including financial struggles and societal obstacles. – Despite these setbacks, her determination and talent propelled her forward, never allowing her dreams to fade.

– Breakthrough moments:

– LaChanze’s first major breakthrough came when she was cast in the Off-Broadway production of “Once on This Island,” which eventually transferred to Broadway. – Her transformative performance in “The Color Purple” brought her international recognition and solidified her status as a leading lady.

– Influences and inspiration:

– LaChanze draws inspiration from artists like Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald. – Her deep connection to storytelling and the emotional resonance of music has been shaped by her own life experiences.


LaChanze’s journey from a small town in Florida to the bright lights of Broadway is truly remarkable. Her talent, resilience, and unwavering dedication to her craft have earned her a well-deserved place among the legends of stage and screen.

As we continue to follow her career, we can expect to witness even more extraordinary performances from this extraordinary actress.


– Memorable performances:

– LaChanze’s portrayal of Celie in “The Color Purple” was so emotionally intense and powerful that she became the first actress to win a Tony Award for a role originated by Oprah Winfrey in the film adaptation. – She also received critical acclaim for her performance as Kate in the 2008 revival of “Gypsy,” starring opposite Patti LuPone.

– LaChanze’s rendition of “Waiting for Life” in the original production of “Once on This Island” remains one of her most iconic and beloved performances. – Unique vocal style:

– LaChanze possesses a vocal range that is both rich and versatile, allowing her to seamlessly transition between various musical genres.

– Her voice has a distinct soulfulness and emotive quality that draws audiences in and leaves a lasting impact. – Notable collaborations:

– LaChanze has had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, including composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens, who wrote the music and lyrics for “Once on This Island.”

– She has also collaborated with acclaimed director George C.

Wolfe on multiple occasions, including her Tony Award-winning performance in “The Color Purple.”

– Philanthropy and activism:

– LaChanze is actively involved in charitable organizations and causes that are close to her heart. – She has used her platform to raise awareness and support for organizations such as The September Concert Foundation, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Family Life

– Tragic loss:

– In the devastating events of September 11, 2001, LaChanze tragically lost her husband, Calvin Gooding, who worked in the World Trade Center at the time. – Her daughter, Celia Rose, was also in the building that day and sadly perished.

– Finding strength through art:

– In the face of unspeakable grief, LaChanze turned to her art as a source of healing and solace. – She has often dedicated her performances to her late daughter, channeling her emotions into powerful and cathartic portrayals on stage.

– Blended family:

– LaChanze is now remarried to Derek Fordjour, an artist and former Columbia University basketball player. – Together, they have a son named Zaya.

– Advocacy for healing and resilience:

– LaChanze has been vocal about her journey of healing and finding joy despite adversity. – Through sharing her experience, she hopes to inspire others to find strength in the face of tragedy and embrace the power of resilience.

Expanding on the


LaChanze’s performances have left an indelible mark on the world of theater. Her portrayal of Celie in “The Color Purple” was a transformative experience for audiences and critics alike.

With raw emotion and breathtaking vulnerability, she captured the essence of Celie’s journey from pain to redemption. The strength of her voice and the depth of her acting skills resonated with audiences, making her interpretation of the character truly memorable.

In the 2008 revival of “Gypsy,” LaChanze took on the role of Kate, a complex and fierce character opposite Patti LuPone. The chemistry between the two leading ladies electrified the stage, leaving audiences in awe of their remarkable performances.

LaChanze’s ability to bring nuance and depth to Kate’s character added another layer of richness to the production. One of LaChanze’s most iconic performances is her rendition of “Waiting for Life” in the original production of “Once on This Island.” This catchy and heartfelt song captured the essence of the musical and became a fan favorite.

LaChanze’s dynamic vocals and infectious energy brought the character of Ti Moune to life, showcasing her range and versatility as an actress. LaChanze’s vocal style is truly unique.

Her voice carries a soulfulness and depth that adds an emotional weight to each note she sings. Whether belting out powerful ballads or singing delicate melodies, she has an innate ability to connect with her audience on a profound level.

Her voice, combined with her acting prowess, creates an unforgettable theatrical experience. Throughout her career, LaChanze has had the privilege of collaborating with some of the most talented individuals in the industry.

She has worked closely with composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens, who wrote the music and lyrics for “Once on This Island.” Their creative partnership resulted in a timeless musical that continues to captivate audiences around the world. LaChanze has also collaborated with visionary director George C.

Wolfe on multiple occasions. Wolfe’s directorial vision perfectly complemented LaChanze’s artistic instincts, resulting in incredible performances that have garnered praise and accolades.

In addition to her stellar career, LaChanze is actively involved in philanthropy and advocacy work. She uses her platform to raise awareness and support for causes that are dear to her heart.

LaChanze has been a strong advocate for The September Concert Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting peace and unity through the universal language of music. She has also lent her voice to support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, among others.

Expanding on

Family Life:

September 11, 2001, marked a tragic turning point in LaChanze’s life. On that fateful day, she lost her husband, Calvin Gooding, who worked in the World Trade Center.

The unimaginable pain of losing a loved one in such a horrific event was compounded by the fact that her daughter, Celia Rose, was also in the building and did not survive. In the aftermath of this heartbreaking loss, LaChanze found solace in her art.

Performing became a form of therapy, allowing her to channel her grief and emotions into her craft. She dedicated her performances to her late daughter, Celia, honoring her memory and finding strength through the power of storytelling.

Despite the immense pain she has endured, LaChanze found love and happiness once again. She remarried Derek Fordjour, an artist and former Columbia University basketball player.

Together, they have a son named Zaya, who brings boundless joy and light into their lives. LaChanze’s journey of healing and resilience has inspired many.

Through sharing her experiences of loss and finding joy amidst tragedy, she has become an advocate for embracing life’s complexities and turning pain into power. Her ability to find strength through art and to use her platform to uplift and inspire others is a testament to her indomitable spirit.

LaChanze’s exceptional talent, coupled with her unwavering resilience and dedication, has made her a force to be reckoned with in the world of theater. Her performances continue to captivate audiences and touch hearts around the world, leaving a lasting impact that transcends the stage.

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