Leslie Jordan celebration of life in Chattanooga to feature comedy, music, memories

Friends, family and fans will gather at Memorial Auditorium Nov. 20

Image by Abby Giuseppe / Leslie Jordan will be celebrated Nov. 20 at Memorial Auditorium. He died in Los Angeles on Oct. 24 and friends and family will gather for the event.

With longtime friend and collaborator Del Shores serving as host for the evening and Danny Myrick acting as musical director, "Love. Light. Leslie.: Sunday Hymn Singin' Celebrating Leslie Jordan" promises to be an evening of laughs, tears, sing-alongs, special guest appearances, surprises and memories.

The memorial is set for 5-7 p.m. Nov. 20 at Memorial Auditorium. It is a ticketed event with a suggested donation of $20 with all proceeds going to Cempa Community Care, which provides social service advocacy, care and assistance for those affected by HIV. Tickets, available at tivolichattanooga.com, will go on sale 9 a.m. Wednesday.

"We want it to be uplifting and positive and bring people together," said Jordan's manager, Mike Lotus.

Lotus, Shores and Myrick have been working with a host of people close to Jordan including his sister, Jana "Cricket" Jordan, cousins Jeff Davis and his sister Jennifer Davis Ward, city officials and Memorial Auditorium staff via Zoom to plan the event.

Jordan will be buried in a private ceremony for friends and family.

Jordan died Oct. 24 in Los Angeles. He was raised in Chattanooga, having attended Brainerd High School and later the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he discovered the theater.

Jordan co-starred in the movie version of Shores' "Sordid Lives," and the two were friends for almost four decades. Myrick co-produced Jordan's 2021 album of Gospel favorites "Company's Comin.'"

Jordan's celebrity status climbed dramatically during the pandemic thanks to daily clips he posted on Instagram.

While the list of artists and celebrities who will attend is still being finalized, Myrick said Monday that each of the performers scheduled to be part of the Leslie Jordan Hunker Downers All-Star Band for the event played on "Company's Comin.'"

Myrick sang with Jordan during his cameo appearances at Riverbend 2022, while Jordan served as the festival's grand marshal. Myrick also worked with Jordan on "Let It Slide," which was written by Myrick and Tim James and features Jordan along with Locash and Blanco Brown. It came out last week.

Jordan embraced his 4-foot-11 stature and his homosexuality throughout his career in several roles on television and during his stage performances. He was a colorful character who won an Emmy for his role as Beverley Leslie on "Will & Grace," trading barbs with actress Megan Mullally.

She teased him about his height and sexuality on the show and he picked on her love of men and booze. He has said in interviews that his favorite line on TV was delivered to Mullally's character. The line was, "Karen Walker, I thought I smelled gin and regret."

Most recently he co-starred on "Call Me Kat" with Mayim Bialik. Myrick and Shores said Jordan knew who he was and where he had come from.

"One thing I've heard all week from people is that Leslie is one of the few people on the planet who could have a dinner party with drag queens and evangelicals at the table," Myrick said.

"All I know is he made me feel like I think Jesus would make me feel."

Comedian Leanne Morgan is performing at Memorial the night before and has asked to be part of the event, as well.

The evening will be all about Jordan, Shores said, and a celebration of his unique character.

"This is all about Leslie," he said.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354. Follow him on Twitter @BarryJC.