by Marcus K. Dowling
Country music’s most unlikely star-to-watch of 2021 could be actor-to-social media standout Leslie Jordan, with his just-released album of gospel country standards, Company’s Comin’. The Chattanooga, Tennessee-born star of Will & Grace and American Horror Story fame has another Tennessee-born icon — Dolly Parton—as a guest for collaboration on the release of Willie Nelson’s 1976-released song “Where the Soul Never Dies.”
Regarding the experience of working with the legend, Jordan told the Los Angeles Times, “I couldn’t even breathe. I went over there, and she was all dolled up for a Christmas special that she did. And we sat there, and even though we were masked and socially distant, we just glommed on to one another. And people said, ’What’s she like?’ Well, you know exactly what she’s like. You don’t have to meet her to know what she’s like. I just adored her.”
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The album evolved from Instagram posts featuring Jordan and musician Travis Howard singing Sunday morning gospel duets. Regarding his church background, Jordan said, “I grew up in the church. We went to church every time the doors opened. The response from Instagram was huge: There would be thousands of comments, with people saying, ’It brings me such comfort.’ So I thought, you know what, whether you’re raised Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, whatever, this music, you could draw some comfort from it.”
Most powerfully, Company’s Comin’ represents a “reunion” of sorts for Jordan and—because he’s openly gay—his frayed Southern Baptist spiritual roots. “I didn’t feel embraced by [the church]. How do you embrace something that doesn’t embrace you? It was never ugly. There was never a big ax to grind,” he reflected. “I just wandered away, and that was that.”