• African American Classical Artist's Hall of Fame

    (see notes below concerning operatic study)

    Pretty Yende


    Ms. Yende is performing in the Met's L'Elisir D'Amore this month. Read up on the successes of Pretty Yendy HERE!

    Darron Flagg

    tenor (TENOR) enjoys an ever-growing reputation as an exciting international artist. The San Francisco Chronicle remarked that Mr. Flagg “heroically...sang the stratospheric (leading role)” of the Honorable Elijah Muhammed in Oakland Opera Theater’s 2006 production of Malcolm X. Building upon that success, this season marks Mr. Flagg’s official debut with Sacramento Opera in Aida. Known for his “splendid” ringing tenor voice, Darron is also recognized for his dramatic acting skills and complete artistry.

    Leontyne Price

    Right up there with the undeniably greatest sopranos of all time, Callas, Tibaldi, Sills and Sutherland was Price.  A striking African American young artist, graduated from The Julliard, made her way into our hearts and into the books as one of the great historic voices.  Meet her in the links below.

    Youtube:  Listen to this great soprano's voice!

    Informational Links:

    Marian Anderson
    Operatic and concert star Marian Anderson was commemorated on a United States postage stamp on January 27, 2005. The stamp honoring Anderson is the 28th in the Postal Service's popular Black Heritage Series. A gifted vocalist Anderson was one of the greatest classical trained singers of the 20th century and an important figure in the struggle of black American's for racial equality.

    Youtube:  Listen to this great mezzo-soprano's voice!

    Informational Links:


    Grace Bumbry
    Barbara Hendricks
    yeah   yeah2
    Barbara Hendricks was born in Arkansas, USA and received her musical training and her Bachelor of Music at the Juilliard School of Music in New York where she studied with mezzo-soprano Jennie Tourel. Earlier, she had completed her studies at the University of Nebraska receiving the degree of Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Chemistry at the age of 20.

    She made her American and European operatic debuts in 1974 at the San Francisco Opera and at the Glyndebourne Festival and went on to appear at all major opera houses throughout the world, including the Paris Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden and La Scala. Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro was her debut role in Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg and Munich, as well as the role she sang in the last performances that the late Karl Böhm conducted of this opera.

    The Study of Opera
    'Operatic vocal technique evolved, in a time before electronic amplification, to allow singers to produce enough volume to be heard over an orchestra, without the instrumentalists having to substantially compromise their volume.'  (Wikipedia)  I've taken this statement as I couldn't have said it better. The opera singer of today needs to sing louder, yet keep the beauty and finess of the roles sung, even if they were at one time performed with a smaller scale orchestra, with lighter sound producing instruments. Most professional singers go through a 4 or 5 year program (vocal performance majors)  learning how to sing (technique),  in ever style (baroque, classical, romantic, modern, etc.), in every language (learning an IPA system ... International Phonetic Alphabet....which aids in singing in any language necessary: Italian, German, French, Spanish, English, Russian, and Checkoslovakian are the major languages sung). They learn repertoir which represents every category and style of music, learn to play the piano, learn to accompany art songs, learn classical choral repertoir, must sing in ensembles throughout their training..concert choirs and opera chorus, and perform in at least 2 performances a year.  Every year students enrolled in these programs perform in a 'jury' which would be their vocal 'final exam', and according to however well they do, they will be kept or dropped from that program. Students also learn theory, sight singing, ear training, music history, and conducting. 
    The school I graduated from was Manhattan School of Music, and if you visit their site, you will get a glimpse of the type of education is offered there.  Some state schools have vibrant vocal performance programs, but I have found that no school can prepare you for a life of performance like an arts/performance school (Mannes, Manhattan School of Music, Juliard, Westminster Choir College/Rider, Curtis, Boston Conservatory...some of the well known schools here in the east.).

Last Modified on February 8, 2021