Updated: Jun 5, 2022
Courtesy Photo-Harrell Holmes Jr.
There aren't very many times in our lives that the stars perfectly align; that a proclamation we make as a kid is realized in adulthood. If that was the case, I would be in New York, NY… living in the sewers, lawyering and making music by day; eating pizza and fighting the Foot Clan by night. Harrell Holmes Jr. first saw "The Five Heartbeats' and knew, at just 8 years old -that he was going to be a Temptation.
"I wanted to be Ruffin. My voice was a lot higher then." Holmes said.
Not only did the Temptations' movie start his singing journey, but his enthusiasm also gave way to a group called the 'Little Temptations', who performed in and around his hometown of Saginaw, MI. One of his fondest memories, (outside of music) was playing AAU basketball when Draymond Green was coming up.
At age 12, he competed as a singer on the 'Star Search' variety show and recalls with fondness visiting the Motown Museum for motivation. Beforehand. "I haven't had a chance to go back since then… I really want to revisit."
The Star Search debut opened important doors in the music industry. The Holmes family moved to California, where Harrell was awarded scholarships from Motown and Stevie Wonder to attend a prestigious Hollywood Pop Academy. He even had the privilege to sing with the legend himself!
Completing his triple threat education with AMDA College of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, Holmes continued to hone his talents singing on American Idol, and with bands in the LA area. " Maxwell's 'A Woman's Worth' is my favorite song to perform," he shares.
In 2018 a friend took him to a show of 'Ain't Too Proud' for his birthday - before its Broadway opening. "
Courtesy Photo-Cast Members Performance of "Ain't Too Proud"
I was completely blown away by the show!" he shares, the excitement evident in his recall.
Harrell's agent reached out with an opportunity in September 2019 for a private audition to fulfill his lifelong dream - performing as a Temptation. In October 2019, Holmes was called back to New York, getting him closer to becoming a Temptation, when March 2020 hit with COVID protocols, bringing production to a hard stop.
"I was living the struggling artist life; Working security and performing corporate events on the weekends to keep myself available and continuing to train."
As the world opened back up, so did production for "Ain't Too Proud." Now, adult Harrell is living out what little Harrell paved the way for! He portrays Melvin Franklin, the deep voice that ties all the harmonies together for the iconic group.
"We have a lot of similarities. He had a deep love and respect for his mom. So much so, that he asked for permission before joining the group. I can definitely relate. Performing was his life, just like it's mine. He stayed on stage until he physically couldn't."
Franklin continued as a Temptation through the nineties(1960-1994) as one of the original two bandmates that stayed touring. He passed from heart failure at age 52 in February 1995.
Coming back to Michigan to play as a Temptation is the definition of a full circle.
"Looking forward to performing at MSU. My mom graduated from there. Also, family and friends that have never seen me on stage…it's going to be a great time!"
Courtesy Photo- Cast member's Performance of "Ain't Too Proud"
Don't miss Harrell and the rest of the cast of the Tony Award-winning show "Ain't Too Proud" when they grace the Wharton stage from June 7th to June 12th.