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Dominique-René de Lerma

(b Sedalia, nc, April 16, 1918; d Norman, ok, Feb 15, 1985). American contralto. She studied at Talladega College, Alabama, and the Juilliard School (1939–43), where she trained under Francis Rogers. While still a student, she appeared in The Hot Mikado at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, and in 1943 she became the first black American to win the Naumburg Award. Her stage performances included the role of the Voodoo Princess in Clarence Cameron White’s Ouanga (independently given at the Metropolitan in 1956 and at Carnegie Hall), Addie in Blitzstein’s Regina, Kakou in Arlen’s Saratoga, Queenie in Kern’s Showboat and Maria in Porgy and Bess (1961, 1976); she appeared at the Vienna Volksoper, 1967–71, in Porgy and Bess, Showboat and Carousel. In 1974 she and her husband the baritone Thomas ...


Andre D. Vann

contralto concert singer, recording artist, and professor, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the youngest of four children born to the Reverend Dr. John Brice, a 1904 graduate of Knoxville College who served as a chaplain during World War I. He was a Congregationalist minister and served as vice president and religious director at Palmer Memorial Institute for thirty years, retiring in 1950. Her mother, Ella Hawkins, also of Knoxville College, was an educator and musician who taught history and pursued a career as a singer. She spent so much time on the road that Brice and her siblings were taken by her father when she was only eighteen months old to Sedalia, North Carolina, and placed in the custody of her first cousin, Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown whom Brice called Aunt Dr Brown was the founder and president of Palmer Memorial Institute The institute was the ...


Cynthia Staples

was born in Bloomfield, Kentucky and little is known about his early life. In the 1880s, while singing in his local church, he either received encouragement or independently developed a desire to become a professional singer. In order to accomplish this, he traveled to New York City in that same decade and quickly became acclimated to the musical world. He worked a series of odd jobs to make money so that he could pay for professional voice, language, and music lessons from instructors such as voice coach John Howard. His teachers introduced him to a world of music he had not known before. He fell in love with opera, a classical form of music that, for Drury, was far more uplifting than the popular and too often derogatory minstrel shows of the late nineteenth century.

In 1889 with the aid of private benefactors who today are largely unknown Drury ...


Doris Evans McGinty

According to Jerrold Lytton (as reported by H. S. Fortune in the Colored American, June 1900), Theodore Drury was born in Kentucky of a musical family. He was well read and able to speak both French and German. Described in contemporary reports as thoroughly trained, elegant, and highly professional in bearing, he was considered by some as the first black, highly trained male singer.

It was in New York and the New England states that Drury's early performing experience as a tenor took place, often in support of more established singers. Through these appearances, his name became known and in 1889 he organized the Drury Comic Opera Company. Toward the end of that same year, the company was renamed the Theodore Drury Opera Company and gave concerts of operatic selections under the management of G. H. Barrett. An advertisement in 1889 (New York Age October ...


Roanne Edwards

The reigning master of Brazilian opera, Antônio Carlos Gomes achieved world renown in 1870 when his opera Il Guarany premiered at La Scala in Milan, Italy. Although he adhered to the conventions of mid-nineteenth-century Italian opera, he looked to Afro-Brazilian themes for some of his operas and instrumental works. Music scholar Claver Filho considers Gomes's piano piece A caiumba (1857), a dance based on the African congada, “the first composition that ushered in Brazilian pre-nationalism.”

Born in Campinas, Brazil, Gomes was the second son of Fabiana Maria J. Cardoso and Manuel José Gomes a composer and bandleader born to a black freedwoman and an unknown father Manuel José also taught piano and violin in Campinas and introduced his two young sons to the rudiments of music Antônio Carlos debuted publicly at the age of eleven playing the triangle in his father s orchestra in ...