GRACE BUMBRY

Grace Bumbry
Grace Bumbry

The personality, charisma and authenticity of Grace Bumbry, American opera diva, is unrivalled. Her voice is especially famous for its incredible range, having starred as both Mezzo-soprano as well as Soprano.

The personality, charisma and authenticity of Grace Bumbry, American opera diva, is unrivalled. Her voice is especially famous for its incredible range, having starred as both Mezzo-soprano as well as Soprano.

She studied voice in St. Louis, Missouri, USA with Kenneth Brown Billups and further at Boston University and Northwestern University, where she met Lotte Lehmann and went on to become her student and protégée at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California.

In June of 1959 she gave her concert debut in London at Wigmore Hall. In April 1960 at 23 years of age she gave her operatic debut in Paris as Amneris in Verdi's Aida, simultaneously being, reportedly, the first Black singer ever to sing a major role in that house. In 1961 she became the first Black singer to perform in Bayreuth, Germany at the Wagner Festival singing the role of Venus from "Tannhaeuser," catapulting her into instant stardom at 24 years of age. There followed engagements with the most important conductors in all the important opera houses ( among others, Vienna State Opera, Paris Palais Garnier, La Scala, Teatro Colon Buenos Aires, Chicago Lyric and MET) and Festivals such as Salzburg Festival, Orange, and Verona. She holds 4 Honorary Doctorate degrees, Kammersaengerin title from Austria, in France she has both l'Officier des Arts et Lettres and Commandeur des Arts et Lettres titles. In Italy she was awarded the Vincenzo Bellini award for her "Norma", plus the Puccini Award for "Tosca" and the Giuseppe Verdi Award for her outstanding contribution to Italian opera.

In 2009 Grace Bumbry was presented the Kennedy Center Honors Award for her lifetime achievement from President Barack Obama.

In 2010 she celebrated a further triumph as Monisha in Joplin's "Treemonisha" at The Theatre de Chatelet in Paris. In March 2012 she sang the "Old Lady" in Bernstein's Candide at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, and in January 2013 she starred in the title role of "Pique Dame" in Vienna at the Vienna State Opera to outstanding critical acclaim.

She is an active vocal coach, teaching privately and as Master teacher at universities and colleges. She is also a sought after member of international vocal competition juries. She formed the Grace Bumbry Vocal and Opera Academy, which convenes from mid-July until mid-September. Ms. Bumbry is also founder of the Grace Bumbry Black Musical Heritage Ensemble and the newly formed International Ambassadors of Opera and Concert.