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Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson's bio. and Interview

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Train

2010 Blue Unit Circus Train Report and Photos from Commerce and Anaheim, CA, by Carl Morrison

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Click Photo for a larger copy.

Johnathan meeting  Vanessa Peng, reporter, and Jeff Davis, cameraman, from Garden Grove, CA, Channel 3.

Chapter 3.  Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson's Bio. and Interview

from the Ringling Website:

 Johnathan Lee Iverson


Johnathan Lee Iverson is back once again to welcome Children Of All Ages to The Greatest Show On Earth®. A multi-talented performer and an exceptional vocalist, Johnathan will once more don the iconic top hat in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Barnum’s FUNundrum!SM , a production that celebrates the extraordinary legacy of the greatest showman on earth! And in following the tradition of P. T. Barnum’s pursuit for global and fascinating talent, Johnathan who had been selected as the first African American and youngest Ringmaster in Ringling Bros. history, returns to preside over this historical edition.

A New York City native, Johnathan began performing at age 11 with the world-famous Boys Choir of Harlem. For seven years, he was intensely trained in all forms of music including classical, jazz, hip hop, and gospel. Johnathan experienced a string of unforgettable, inspiring moments as a member of the Boys Choir, which included being awarded the lead tenor for the choir, singing at the intermission for Luciano Pavarotti's Concert in Central Park, performing in a live show on Broadway for two weeks, and winning second place in the Lena Horne Vocal Jazz Scholarship.

Johnathan graduated from the University of Hartford's Hartt School in May 1998 with a degree in voice performance, and shortly after his graduation, Johnathan was invited to begin his professional entertainment career with the 129th Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®. Johnathan couldn’t refuse the offer and felt his prominent role in the show was an unbelievable dream come true.
Johnathan toured with Ringling Bros. all around the United States, and his charismatic charm and his incredible voice caught the eye of Barbara Walters, who named him one of the ten most fascinating people in 1999. Johnathan’s continuing passion for performance and his drive for excellence earned him an invitation back to perform with the 131st and 133rd Editions.

After three consecutive tours with The Greatest Show On Earth, Johnathan left to pursue other performance opportunities, but continued to work with Ringling Bros. for special events. Johnathan performed in several Off Broadway productions including Carnival, Showboat, The Magic Flute, and Dreamgirls. He also did commercials for Jeep, Six Flags Great Adventure and Casual Male XL, as well as some singing with the USO Liberty Bells of New York, voiceovers for a new animated feature entitled Eloise, and a bit of freelance journalism under his pen name J. Frederick Baptiste/Johnathan Baptiste.

Johnathan is honored to return to Ringling Bros., and can’t wait to take audiences on a fun-tastic excursion aboard the circus train to amazing places near and far on his quest to create The Greatest Show On Earth.

“I am grateful to be a part of this celebration and to be a part of this great American treasure. Nothing can compare to this job. Being a ringmaster is truly thrilling,” exclaims Johnathan.

Joining Johnathan on the rails is his wife and fellow performer Priscilla, whom he met and married while previously touring with Ringling Bros., and their children Matthew Felipe and Lila Simone.

--Direct quote from  

Iverson's wife, Priscilla, is a dancer in the show. His two children, 5-year-old Matthew and 1-year-old Lila, travel with the circus, attending schools and day care provided by the show's parent company, Feld Entertainment. His two kids are among 18 school-age children currently traveling with the circus. Parents work in roles including wardrobe, concessions and management as well as performing.

About his son, Matthew, 5, Iverson says, "It's funny to watch how this little person is immersed in a global culture, really. He's surrounded by people from 10 different countries every day. He's seeing faces of every hue. He's hearing people speak many tongues.… He's traveling this great country of ours by rail car.  He gets to see America go by.

--By Sam McDonald

Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
Published: Monday, June 21, 2010 1:14 p.m. MDT
Click Here for his Full online story.  

His charismatic charm and his incredible voice caught the eye of Barbara Walters, who named him one of the ten most fascinating people in 1999.

-- From:

When I entered the Pie Car, 6' 5" Johnathan was telling the assembled reporters and cameramen about himself.  In addition to the things mentioned above in the press release, I learned that he was away from the circus for 5 years and he felt like Superman had lost his powers.

He said many folks think of the circus as a place for persons with a hidden past, running away from something.  He says this is far from the truth.  His circus colleagues are at the zenith of their circus arts.  Every day they perform might be their last because their craft means their life because many are doing death-defying acts.