Robert McFerrin was the first African American male to sing a role at the Metropolitan Opera and was the first African American to sing at the Teatro San Carlo. His velvet baritone voice graced many opera houses nationally and internationally. McFerrin was the voice of Porgy in the famous film production of Porgy and Bess, featuring Sidney Portier and Dorothy Dandridge. Here is a recording of McFerrin performing an aria from the opera Rigoletto.
Want to know more about Robert McFerrin? Black Then has a brief biography on their website shown in the link below.
Diversita Opera Arts Company
Hall Johnson was a famous composer and genius of his time. He spoke several different languages fluently, coached famous opera singers such as Marian Anderson, Robert McFerrin, and Shirley Verrett. Johnson wrote/arranged some of the most poignant classical music representing African American culture along with writing arranged music for films and conducted all over the world. With his choir, The Hall John Choir, Johnson helped make history through the film Cabin in the Sky, which was one of the first all black casted films nominated for an Oscar. You can hear his choir singing in this clip.
For more information concerning Hall Johnson's life, read Afrocentric Voices' write up on Hall Johnson featured on the link below.
Black History Month
Diversita Opera Arts Company honors several African American artists throughout the month.
Composer, Concert Pianist
Florence Beatrice Price was the first African American woman to have her symphonic piece played by a major orchestra. Recently on All Things Considered, NPR covered Price in an article discussing her life and new material discovered in Price's former residence.
To read this article, click the link below:
Florence was a trailblazer, an exceptional pianist, and created remarkable compositions. Unfortunately, she did not receive the credit she deserved during her lifetime. Here is one of her symphonic pieces played by the Women's Philharmonic & Apu Hsu.
Marian Anderson was an international superstar and the first African American to perform a role at the Metropolitan Opera. Known for her rich and beautiful contralto voice, Anderson broke many barriers for African Americans in the music field. She was also a champion for civil rights, singing at the March on Washington where Martin Luther King gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
To read more about Anderson, click the link to the PBS article below.
You can also read her autobiography, My Lord, What a Morning.
Here is a video recording of Anderson performing a spiritual.