He is a man of many talents—a spinner of songs and stories, a performer of stage narratives, and perhaps most famously, the onstage reincarnation of Alexander Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda has been in the spotlight plenty of times for his presence in the performing arts and music. His fecundity as an artist is well-known and much praised, and so are the novel styles of music he has brought into public awareness.
It is a rare artist that has not one but multiple tools at their disposal to synthetize at will; also rare is the one that can wield all masterfully to create and star in something as complex as a musical. Among those precious few stars is Lin-Manuel Miranda, who brought to the world such gems as In the Heights (2008) and, of course, Hamilton (2015). His work has brought him much praise, even being mentioned in Time magazine’s “Most Influential People in the World” list and netting him a Pulitzer Prize and three Tony Awards, among others.
The word diversity easily comes to mind when one thinks of Miranda. His first widelysuccessful musical In the Heights spoke of life in a Dominican-American neighborhood—a setting that would allow him to incorporate various styles of music, such as rap and salsa, as well as shine a light on the stories and struggles from a minority community. Miranda would continue employing his talents to bring something different, a new spin on old things, to widen the perspectives of all who listens. Hamilton is a perfect example of this.
The musical in question is not the first to incorporate hip hop, but it should be noted that Miranda was the most successful composer so far in that regard. In an interview with Rolling Stone, his co-star Daveed Diggs commented that, “Lin managed to figure out ‘the cadence, or the unique style, of each rapper’ for all of these different characters,” praising his insight in reading and presenting individuals in a relatable way. The music itself is also diverse; there is, of all things, a Brit pop number armed with comically saccharine lyrics, and a lighthearted R&B love song among intense rap sessions. Neither feels out of place, demonstrating Miranda’s skill at cobbling together different, and perhaps unexpected, pieces to produce a harmonious whole.
Although Miranda is applauded for showing great skills in multiple areas of art at once, masterminding a musical is not all that he does. West Side Story’s (2009) revival had him behind the scenes, working to rewrite lyrics and dialogue in Spanish. It was also his hand that penned the words and tunes for Disney’s Moana (2016), whose soundtrack is widely acclaimed, to say the least. The seamless blend of South Pacific with pop, the exotic made friendly without losing its unique spark, another facet of the world Miranda has masterfully introduced—keeping his previous triumphs in mind, this feels almost like a reassurance that there will always be new things for listeners to learn and grow to love if Miranda is holding the pen.
So many of Miranda’s projects involve subjects obscure to the public being fused with styles many are more familiar with, producing something at once refreshing and addicting. His love for all the forms he uses—writing as well as music and acting—infuses into his work a sense of authenticity all his own. Miranda could not have chosen a better medium to show a whole new world to his audience, and the world would not be the same without him to brighten its stages and screens.