Circus Ringmaster Makes History
The circus is coming to town! And it still excites me just as much as it did when I was a child many moons ago. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus are on their way to my home region — Nashville, Tennessee — this weekend, and it promises to be a very extraordinary event.
The circus will present legends, featuring Johnathan Lee Iverson, a highly decorated, entertaining ringmaster. According to press, Johnathan is a multi-talented performer and an exceptional vocalist. He will don the iconic top hat and preside over this legendary cast that brings together mythical lore with authentic circus feats found only at The Greatest Show on Earth. In his remarkable career, Johnathan Lee Iverson was the first African-American and also the youngest ringmaster in the history of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.
At 11, he was performing with the world famous Boys Choir of Harlem, and he was awarded the lead tenor role. While a member of the choir, he sang at the intermission for Luciano Pavarotti’s concert in Central Park. With his first year as ringmaster in 1999, Johnathan impressed the one and only Barbara Walters, and she named him one of the ten most fascinating people in the same year.
For more information and tickets to a circus event, please visit the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Website
Here is what Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson discussed with Rocking God’s House:
How does it feel to be the first African-American as well as youngest ringmaster ever for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, and what made you decide you wanted to literally join the circus?
History always feels wonderful. It means you’ve inscribed yourself in the annals of time. Personally, as someone who was raised on a healthy diet of the history of our people, it makes my presence in the history pages even more special. It humbles me and gives me even more to aspire to. Ringling Bros. was an opportunity presented me and because of the allure of history that it came with, I had no choice but to pursue it.
You were in the famous Boys Choir of Harlem. Can you tell us some more about that experience?
Joining The Boys Choir of Harlem was a second birth. Everything I am professionally, and in many respects personally, is due to that organization. It wasn’t merely about becoming fine singers, and we were. It wasn’t merely about gracing the world’s greatest stages, performing for heads of state, and sharing the stage with legendary artists — and we did. It was about creating “good citizens.” It was through arts, education, exposure to our proud and rich history as African peoples, and the understanding of our role as ambassadors to our families, our people, and nation that guide how I live today.
What are you doing at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital?
I hope I will lift the spirits of some very brave children. Everyone deserves a little circus in their lives.
And you have a performance at Listening Room Café in Nashville as well?
I am a Christian.