Audra McDonald Racks Up The Tonys, This Time As Billie Holiday

Audra McDonald just won her sixth Tony, the most wins by anyone to date. McDonald is a Broadway staple, and she earned her latest Tony playing Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There's a new queen of Broadway. Audra McDonald won her sixth Tony award last night for her betrayal of Billie Holiday in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, CRAZY HE CALLS ME")

AUDRA MCDONALD: (As Billie Holiday, singing) Crazy he calls me. Sure I'm crazy. Crazy in love, I'd say.

CORNISH: When she got to the stage to accept her Tony, the audience at Radio City Music Hall was on its feet. The standing ovation that initially drowning her out.

MCDONALD: Thank you so much. Thank you.

CORNISH: She now holds the title for most wins in Broadway history.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

She surpassed even the legendary Angela Lansbury, who was five Tony's, and Julie Harris, who had five Tony's and a lifetime achievement award. Audra McDonald is also the first performer to win in all four Tony acting categories.

CORNISH: She had three of the awards by the time she was 28 for her supporting roles in the play "Master Class" and the musicals "Carousel" and "Ragtime." She also won Tony's for her performances in "A Raisin in the Sun" and the Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUMMERTIME")

MCDONALD: (As Bess, singing) Summertime, and the living is easy.

CORNISH: If you're not a Broadway fan, you may know McDonald as Doctor Naomi Bennett on ABC's "Private Practice" or from her appearance as the Mother Abbess in NBC's live production of the "Sound of Music" in December.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN")

MCDONALD: (As Mother Abbess, singing) Climb every mountain. Ford every stream.

CORNISH: It's that soaring soprano that critics say makes her one of the greatest Broadway performers of her generation.

BLOCK: Last night, Audra McDonald paid tribute to the performers who have inspired her.

(SOUNDBITE OF TONY AWARDS)

MCDONALD: I am standing on Lena, Lena Horn's shoulders. I'm standing on Maya Angelou's shoulders. I'm standing on Diahann Caroll, and Ruby Dee. And most of all, Billie Holiday. You deserved so much more than you were given when you were on this planet. This is for you Billie. Thank you so much.

(APPLAUSE)

CORNISH: Broadway's Audra McDonald accepting her record sixth Tony award last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRAZY HE CALLS ME")

MCDONALD: (As Billie Holiday, singing) I say I'll move the mountains, and I'll move the mountains if he wants them out of the way. Crazy he calls me, sure I'm crazy, crazy in love.

CORNISH: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

(MUSIC)

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