Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson's bio. and Interview
Ringling Bros. and Barnum
& Bailey Circus Train
2010 Blue Unit Circus Train Report and Photos
from Commerce and Anaheim, CA, by Carl Morrison
Click Photo for a larger copy.
Johnathan meeting Vanessa Peng, reporter, and Jeff
Davis, cameraman, from Garden Grove, CA, Channel 3.
Chapter 3. Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson's Bio.
Johnathan Lee Iverson
Johnathan Lee Iverson is back once again to welcome Children Of All Ages
to The Greatest Show On Earth®. A multi-talented performer and an exceptional
vocalist, Johnathan will once more don the iconic top hat in Ringling Bros.
and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Barnum’s FUNundrum!SM , a production
that celebrates the extraordinary legacy of the greatest showman on earth!
And in following the tradition of P. T. Barnum’s pursuit for global and fascinating
talent, Johnathan who had been selected as the first African American and
youngest Ringmaster in Ringling Bros. history, returns to preside over this
A New York City native, Johnathan began performing at age 11 with the
world-famous Boys Choir of Harlem. For seven years, he was intensely trained
in all forms of music including classical, jazz, hip hop, and gospel. Johnathan
experienced a string of unforgettable, inspiring moments as a member of
the Boys Choir, which included being awarded the lead tenor for the choir,
singing at the intermission for Luciano Pavarotti's Concert in Central Park,
performing in a live show on Broadway for two weeks, and winning second place
in the Lena Horne Vocal Jazz Scholarship.
Johnathan graduated from the University of Hartford's Hartt School in
May 1998 with a degree in voice performance, and shortly after his graduation,
Johnathan was invited to begin his professional entertainment career with
the 129th Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®. Johnathan
couldn’t refuse the offer and felt his prominent role in the show was an
unbelievable dream come true.
Johnathan toured with Ringling Bros. all around the United States, and
his charismatic charm and his incredible voice caught the eye of Barbara
Walters, who named him one of the ten most fascinating people in 1999. Johnathan’s
continuing passion for performance and his drive for excellence earned him
an invitation back to perform with the 131st and 133rd Editions.
After three consecutive tours with The Greatest Show On Earth, Johnathan
left to pursue other performance opportunities, but continued to work with
Ringling Bros. for special events. Johnathan performed in several Off Broadway
productions including Carnival, Showboat, The Magic Flute, and Dreamgirls.
He also did commercials for Jeep, Six Flags Great Adventure and Casual Male
XL, as well as some singing with the USO Liberty Bells of New York, voiceovers
for a new animated feature entitled Eloise, and a bit of freelance journalism
under his pen name J. Frederick Baptiste/Johnathan Baptiste.
Johnathan is honored to return to Ringling Bros., and can’t wait to take
audiences on a fun-tastic excursion aboard the circus train to amazing places
near and far on his quest to create The Greatest Show On Earth.
“I am grateful to be a part of this celebration and to be a part of this
great American treasure. Nothing can compare to this job. Being a ringmaster
is truly thrilling,” exclaims Johnathan.
Joining Johnathan on the rails is his wife and fellow performer Priscilla,
whom he met and married while previously touring with Ringling Bros., and
their children Matthew Felipe and Lila Simone.
Iverson's wife, Priscilla, is a dancer in the show.
His two children, 5-year-old Matthew and 1-year-old Lila, travel with the
circus, attending schools and day care provided by the show's parent company,
Feld Entertainment. His two kids are among 18 school-age children currently
traveling with the circus. Parents work in roles including wardrobe, concessions
and management as well as performing.
About his son, Matthew, 5, Iverson says, "It's funny to watch how this
little person is immersed in a global culture, really. He's surrounded by
people from 10 different countries every day. He's seeing faces of every
hue. He's hearing people speak many tongues.… He's traveling this great
country of ours by rail car. He gets to see America go by.
--By Sam McDonald
Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
Published: Monday, June 21, 2010 1:14 p.m. MDT
for his Full online story.
His charismatic charm and his incredible voice caught
the eye of Barbara Walters, who named him one of the ten most fascinating
people in 1999.
-- From: http://njlibrarychampions.org/celebrity_nj_library_champions/jonathan_lee_iverson
When I entered the Pie Car, 6' 5" Johnathan was telling the assembled
reporters and cameramen about himself. In addition to the things mentioned
above in the press release, I learned that he was away from the circus for
5 years and he felt like Superman had lost his powers.
He said many folks think of the circus as a place for persons with a
hidden past, running away from something. He says this is far from the
truth. His circus colleagues are at the zenith of their circus arts.
Every day they perform might be their last because their craft means
their life because many are doing death-defying acts.