When students entered the Massey Performing Arts Center on Friday, September 15 for another senior recital, they were greeted with an artist who is no stranger to the stage. Tony Award-Winning singer, songwriter and actor Levi Kreis performed his senior recital before a full house last week, signaling the end of a degree he has spent years working towards. In December, Kreis will receive his bachelor’s of music in commercial music with a music business emphasis.
After leaving Belmont years ago to begin his career before graduating, Kreis won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical when his experience as a recording artist, actor and pianist combined to originate the role of Jerry Lee Lewis in Broadway’s Million Dollar Quartet. Soon after, to further his success, Kreis became more and more interested in completing his degree. Since then, Belmont’s School of Music has worked around his show, tours and travel schedule to ensure he was able to complete his outstanding degree requirements. Understanding the importance of finishing what he started, Kreis set his sights on graduation.
“There’s a pride in being a Belmont alumni,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave any unfinished business. It’s important to me to be associated with Belmont, especially in this industry. The university attracts the cream of the crop and has proven, time and time again, that it can groom that talent to have a remarkable impact on the entertainment industry and beyond. I’m proud to be a Belmont alum.”
Kreis said it’s always been important that he finish the degree, it was just a matter of timing. Reflecting back on his “fantastic experience,” Kreis has a message for current students. “There are so many ways to be successful,” he said. “Had I not been given the tools through my Belmont experience to create a unique vision for myself, I’m not sure where’d I’d be. We all have the opportunity to use the tools we’ve been given and decide what success looks like for our own careers. At any time in life, you can always turn to your education.”
Before taking the stage last week to complete his senior recital (the final requirement for his degree), Kreis said he heard a final word of encouragement from Dr. Jeff Kirk, associate director of the School of Music and the faculty member who shepherded the completion of his degree. “I know this has been a long journey,” he said, “but we are so very proud of you.”
In addition to his recognition for Million Dollar Quartet, Kreis’s career has included other notable acting credits like Broadway’s Tony nominated revival Violet, the national tour of Rent, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Pump Boys & Dinettes and the films Frailty, Don’t Let Go, Slip Tumble and Slide, A Very Sordid Wedding and The Divide.