Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thank God he didn't say Lil' Wayne!

Whenever I'm getting to know someone, among the first questions I ask is "what kind of music do you listen to"? I believe musical preference is a pretty good indicator of the type off person you're dealing with. Not to mention a good way to determine what (if anything) you have in common. So over the weekend while moving about town with a new friend I was surprised to hear him admit that in addition to R&B, Jazz and Reggae (thank God he didn't say Lil' Wayne) he kinda digs Opera. I have to admit, I'm not a big Opera fan but I do appreciate the complexity of the form and I respect anyone who has the patience to try to understand it all. So this morning with Opera still on my mind, I did a bit of research on the presence of African Americans in opera and came across these amazing stories:

Sissaretta Jones

I discovered Sissieretta Jones on one of my favorite blogs, Ms. Jones was featured in a blog about the history of natural hair styles worn by African-American women. Sissieretta Jones was a celebrated soprano and the first African American performer to perform at Carnegie Concert Hall. You can learn more about Sissieretta here.


I was first introduced to this opera, after my sister, who is named after Treemonisha, was born. African-American composer Scott Joplin wrote Treemonisha around 1910. It would be almost 60 years before the piece would be performed in it's entirety. It is still performed around the world, most recently the cast played to sold out crowds in Washington DC and Paris, France.

Denyce Graves:

The modern day diva. I've had the privilege of seeing Denyece Graves perform a number of times, most recently at the memorial service for Dr. Dorothy Height. The Washington DC native is best know for her (hundreds of) performances as the title role in the French opera Carmen. She's overcome poverty, a career threatening injury and a heartbreaking marriage only to find happiness and success, making her life as inspiring as her voice. Oh, and did I mention sista-girl is fierce!!!

So the next time you're searching itunes for different and interesting songs, check out the opera category, you just might enjoy what you hear, or at the very least be able to impress your friends with how cultured you are.

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