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‘Black Mona Lisa’ is Billy Porter’s legacy in-the-making

Written by on November 20, 2023

Republic Records

It may be his fifth album, but with Black Mona LisaBilly Porter is finally singing on his terms. 

The 12 club-ready dance tracks sing a much different tune than that of his previous projects. After 30 years of fighting for equality in music — among the other areas of his life and career — Porter says he’s continuing to forge his own path. 

“They ran me out of the business because I was gay,” he told ABC Audio of the “violently…homophobic” state of the industry in 1997, when he dropped his debut album.

Porter said he extracted himself from that trauma and created his own lane based on his authenticity as a queer person, “which everybody told me would be my liability.”

“Now,” he said, “my liability is my superpower.”

Black Mona Lisa, along with the title track, is about finding one’s power.

“One time for the kids in the back who never had a chance to dance/Two time for the kids of the night who never had the sky to fly/Three times for my damn self ’cause I’m self-made and no lie,” he sings on the song.

“It’s about … owning [your power] in a world that tells you that you’re worthless. It’s about speaking,” Porter explained. “It calls forth a creative thing that we already know — The Mona Lisa — who is relevant past, present, future and for always.”

“That is the legacy that I, Billy Porter, am creating.” 

Black Mona Lisa is available for streaming on major platforms.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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