The son of the Dr. Oscar and Mae Dell Hamilton, he was born in the small southwest Arkansas town of Foreman With an interest in music stemming from childhood, Hamilton earned a music scholarship to attend Henderson State University in Arkadelphia where he studied piano and voice He graduated in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in music education.
From Arkansas, Hamilton traveled to Florida to work as a performer at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida where he would meet talent manager, Tommy Molinaro. This fateful meeting would prove to be a life-changing encounter, as Molinaro would invite Hamilton to come to New York to audition for the famed actor/director Geoffrey Holder. This marked the beginning of Hamilton’s bold and creative career in the performing arts, leading to performances on Broadway and on tours in Sophisticated Ladies, The Wiz,Uptown – Its Hot, Porgy and Bess, Big River, Play On!, and Jelly’s Last Jam among others. Perhaps his crowning achievement was starring in Ragtime.
Hamilton has been a member of the Southern Ballet Theater, Brooklyn Dance Theater, Ballet Tap USA, and the Arkansas Opera Theater He has performed in concert with the legendary Lena Horne at the White House for President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, and at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II. Hamilton’s career also led to a stint as musical director for the renowned opera legend Jessye Norman, as well as vocal coach/arranger for the pop group New Kids on the Block
Upon his return to Arkansas, Hamilton served for several years as director of choral music at Philander Smith College. He also appeared in several plays at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. In addition, he performed at countless concerts, benefits and galas throughout Arkansas. In 2003, he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. In 2008, he was appointed to the Little Rock Mayor’s Task Force on Tourism.
Hamilton died in New York in April 2014 due to complications from surgery. Just weeks prior to the surgery, he had appeared in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson in Cape Fear, North Carolina. He had also starred in that play at Arkansas Rep a few years earlier.