Audra McDonald

TIME 100 2015 Audra McDonald
John Scarisbrick for TIME

The angelic voice

Beautiful. Intelligent. Extraordinarily talented. These are just a few words that describe the incomparable Audra McDonald. She has acted on television and in movies, graced theater and concert stages and given a gift to countless fans with a voice that I can only describe as being blessed by God.

Audra has accomplished incredible things in her career. She’s won more Tony awards than any other Broadway performer, most recently for playing Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. But I feel the greatest legacy she will leave behind lies in the works she does for others.

Never afraid to stand up for what she believes, Audra is a strong voice speaking out for humane treatment of animals, dignity for the homeless and marriage equality.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Audra during our time on NBC’s telecast of The Sound of Music Live! and I can honestly say that simply being in her presence was a gift. She is mesmerizing. I would often find myself messing up lines or songs because I was in awe of everything she was doing as the Mother Abbess.

I knew from the moment I heard her angelic voice that I was in the presence of greatness, and my thoughts about her were only intensified when I saw a glimpse of her amazing heart. I am proud to call myself her fan—and to call her my friend.

Underwood is a seven-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter

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