You may recognize her from TV, but you might not realize Audra McDonald, who played Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s hit television series “Private Practice,” has a major career as a concert and recording artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world.

She’ll sing from a Mesa stage on Dec. 21. The winner of five Tony Awards and two Grammys, McDonald will perform holiday favorites along with stage and screen hits with The Phoenix Symphony at Mesa Arts Center.

Gifted with a luminous soprano, McDonald was awarded the Tony for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for the 2011 production of the “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” placing her in the illustrious company of Broadway legends Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury as the only performers in Tony history to win five acting awards.

Born into a musical family, McDonald grew up in Fresno, Calif., and received her vocal training at the Juilliard School. One year after graduating, she won her first Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for “Carousel” at Lincoln Center Theater. She received two additional Tony Awards in the Featured Actress category over the next four years for her performances in the Broadway premieres of “Master Class” (1996) and “Ragtime” (1998), earning her an unprecedented three Tony Awards before turning 30.

In 2004 she won her fourth Tony, starring with Sean “Diddy” Combs in “A Raisin in the Sun.”

It was the Peabody Award-winning CBS program “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years” that first introduced McDonald to television audiences. She went on to co-star with Kathy Bates in the lauded 1999 Disney/ABC television remake of “Annie,” and in 2000 she had a recurring role on NBC’s hit series “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”

She’s also appeared in the HBO film version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Wit,” starring Emma Thompson, the political drama “Mister Sterling,” starring Josh Brolin, the WB’s “The Bedford Diaries” and NBC’s “Kidnapped.”

Of all her roles, McDonald says her favorite is that of mother to her daughter, Zoe Madeline.


What: Audra McDonald with The Phoenix Symphony

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21

Where: Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St.

Cost: $45-$79

Information: (480) 644-6500 or

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