Finding Lindon

Posted: May 6, 2011 in Culture, Entertainment, Film, Performance, Uncategorized

It is nothing less than an abject joy when a young newcomer to the performing arts, living their life for all the world to see, truly seems to begin getting somewhere in their chosen line of entertainment. And that victory is made all the more sweet when not only does said newcomer go completely against the grain of what many would perceive to be the so-called norm, but manages to be free of affectation in the process. So it goes with nineteen-year-old Lindon Warren, a young Black gentleman from the Chicago suburb of Round Lake Beach, whose impersonations of Judy Garland and other personalities quickly went viral through a series of YouTube videos. He’s not only recently relocated to Hollywood, appearing in shows in Jim Caruso’s popular Cast Party at the Magic Castle series in Los Angeles, but also spontaneously won a chance to serve as a warm-up act for a taping of Jimmy Kimmel’s TV show. As if none of this was enough, Warren will officially be launched upon the big screen as star of  the documentary film Finding Judy, developed by filmmaker Gary Riotto, and premiering as part of the Boston LGBT Film Festival this Saturday, May 7th, at 3:30 PM at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. Screenings in similar festivals have already been scheduled through the end of August, and deservedly so.

How does someone so young have such an appreciation for a performer like Judy Garland?” “Well,” he tells me, “I first found out about her on February 25, 2001. I was nine and in the third grade, and Me And My Shadows: Life With Judy Garland came on TV. I already loved entertainment history, but until then I really didn’t know who she was, so I thought it would be interesting to watch. I came in late that night, so my folks wouldn’t let me watch TV, as a punishment, but I snuck. I missed a lot of the first night, but I loved the second night and watched it all, with Judy Davis playing her. Then I tried finding it in a video store, but it wasn’t available. So I said, ‘What the heck? I’ll look for the real Judy Garland.’ That’s when I became hooked.” His path into live performance began shortly after. “I started to sing when I was about ten, in fourth grade. Then, when I was in sixth grade, my music teacher wanted us to write a poem about medieval times and entertainment, so I asked if i could write a song instead, and she said yes. I named it ‘Troubadour,’ and I made it into a sort of a jazzy ballad. About a week later, the teacher said we were going to have a talent show, so I asked if I could sing the song I wrote, and she said I could. So the day I performed that song was the first time I ever sang by myself in front of an audience. Which was the WHOLE school,” he laughs. A thirst for performance also runs though the Warren bloodline. “My brother Jeff is already doing extra roles,” he says. “He’s been on TV in ‘Numb3rs’ and ‘CSI,’ and a few music videos.”

Warren eventually discovered that he not only loved performing for an audience, but that he could do other celebrity impressions and character voices. “It sort of came to me at once,” he says. “I didn’t really recognize that I could do impersonations until I was a freshman in high school. I knew in fifth grade that I could do the voice of the older Judy, and by seventh grade I could do the younger Judy, but it was freshman year that I found I could also do Carol Channing,  Ethel Merman and Louis Armstrong. And it’s only very recently that I discovered I could also impersonate Liza Minnelli. But I also started doing voices like a church pastor, or an old man. I did the announcements at school on the loudspeaker with my pastor voice, and I would say, ‘Hello, everybody, this is Pastor Lindon Warren and I want to tell you the announcements for today.’ That made the whole school know who I was. I can remember being outside after school to get on the bus and someone was asking people, ‘Who’s Lindon Warren?’ and I said ‘I’M Lindon Warren.’ Then, that year we had a variety show that I wanted to be in, and I was figuring out what I was going to do that would be memorable. I said, ‘I’ll sing and do impersonations of people!’ So I practiced, and got in the show.” He continues, “That night was one of the greatest nights of my life. I started out singing ‘Blue Moon,’ then went into singing ‘Taking A Chance On Love.’ I then did Ethel Merman singing ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business.’ Next was Louis Armstrong singing ‘On The Sunny Side Of The Street,’ which I’d never even heard him sing before. Lastly, I did young Judy singing ‘Over The Rainbow,’ and the crowd went wild. Now, this talent show was on February 9, 2007, and that was the day after Anna Nicole Smith had died. And I wanted to give a little memorable tribute to her, that I thought about before I went on stage. So I said, ‘Since I’m giving tribute to the movie stars of yesterday, there’s one star that we lost twenty-four hours ago, Anna Nicole Smith. We will never forget her movies, her shows, and we will never forget her saying ‘TrimSpa, Baby!’ Then the crowd went crazy with laughter and excitement, and I got my first standing ovation. It was the only standing ovation that night, and the loudest applause of the evening. That’s what motivated me to keep going, and adding more impressions to my resume.”

That talent show would serve as Warren’s impetus to begin “selfcasting” on YouTube. He tells me, “I met someone who saw me performing that night, and she said ‘I’m your biggest fan! I saw you at the variety show, and I recorded it!’ I asked her if I could have a copy of it, so I gave her my e-mail address and she sent them to me. I created a YouTube account under the name ‘puffpuffy’ and posted them, and those were my first videos. I don’t broadcast anywhere else,” he says, “but I had a podcast show during freshman year. It was only three episodes, but I’m thinking of starting back up again.”

It’s never anything less than refreshing to acquaint oneself with someone so young and yet so focused. Suffice to say that those of us who are already devoted fans of Lindon Warren will be standing by, waiting and watching for the stardom that will surely be his in the very near future. And especially after the debut of Finding Judy. Thus, the world couldn’t be happier to have found Lindon. And we’ll all be watching very closely as he climbs every blessed rung on the ladder to fame and fortune.

  1. snazzbob says:

    Poor kid don’t have a chance with a lame gimmick. The world don’t need another judy impersonater. Heck judy garland is my pop’s time. Riotto is gonna ruin this dumb kid putting him in the gay movie world.

  2. coolman33 says:

    Lindon Warren Is awesome

  3. coolman33 says:

    Lindon Warren isn’t just another Judy Impersonator he does it all Louis Armstrong, Billie Hollyday, Billy Ecstine you name it!
    There is a lot of talent in this kid and I bet Finding Judy does great justice to this talented young man.
    Not only does he do impressions but he sings in his own Baritone voice that can go from High Tenor to Low bass and his vocal range is better than any young man I’ve seen…I bet your jelous of him because you didn’t have the Balls to follow your dream but he is in L.A. andis doing great. I saw him in person at the Barnsdall Theater in Hollywood and I must say he brought down the house he did a great job and his youtube vids dont do him justice.
    Lindon is a very talented man.
    Keep Killin em Lindon you will have haters but you are strong!!!

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