If you're a fan of Broadway, then who the 2017 Emmys in memoriam singer is will be immediately recognizable. But, even if you're not a fan of Broadway, you probably know this singer, because he's from the smash hit Hamilton — and everyone knows about Hamilton. Christopher Jackson is singing the 2017 Emmys in memoriam segment this year, and he couldn't be more suited for the job. Jackson originated the role of George Washington in Hamilton and was even nominated for a Tony because of it.
But, Hamilton hasn't been Jackson's only high-profile gig. The actor and singer has also appeared on Broadway in shows like In The Heights and The Lion King. Over in TV, you may have spotted him in Bull, The Good Wife, Nurse Jackie, or Oz. Or, perhaps you may have heard him in Moana where he sang as Chief Tui in a score composed by his friend and fellow Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda.
On Sunday night, after being introduced by the lovely Viola Davis, Jackson paid tribute to those lost in the TV industry this year, including Jerry Lewis, Mary Tyler Moore, Adam West, Bill Paxton, Gwen Ifill, and more. The song he chose was a perfect tribute to those who sadly passed away this year. Jackson started out by reciting the classic Maya Angelou poem Touched By An Angel with touching lines like:
We dare be brave
And suddenly we see
That love costs all we are
And will ever be.
Yet it is only love
Which sets us free.
Then Jackson dove into singing Stevie Wonder's "As," which contains a sweet message of everlasting love no matter what, with lyrics like, "Do know what I say is true, that I'll be loving you always." You can see and hear the touching tribute in the below video recorded by a viewer:
It's always tough to lose people in the industry (as it is to lose anyone anywhere), but these award show in memoriams provide touching tributes to those who've passed on. It's a way to keep their memory alive and honor them all at once. Jackson did a great job in the role, which is a tough one to tackle. Unlike presenting an award, where your job is to make others happy, the in memoriam singer has the rough job of reminding people of those who are sadly no longer with us.
But, Jackson took this role with pride and delivered a touching rendition of the poem and the song, which had the whole audience captivated. Jackson himself, though, has never been nominated for a primetime Emmy — he has the Tony nom, a Grammy win, and a couple of daytime Emmy noms and a win under his belt. He scored the daytime Emmy win in 2011 for a song he did for Sesame Street.
If you want to hear more of his singing voice beyond this Emmys number, you can check out the videos below — you know, if you never actually got to see him in Hamilton IRL. This is almost as good.
He's also sang the National Anthem, and his voice will make you feel patriotic AF.
Here's another patriotic number from him. He may not play George Washington in Hamilton anymore, but he sure loves to celebrate this nation. The real George Washington would be proud.
Perhaps someday Jackson will be back at the Emmys for a nomination of his very own, but, for now, he seemed happy to honor others with his voice on Sunday night — and the Emmys team couldn't have picked a better person (or a better song) to lead this intense segment.