Born on Jan. 4, 1937, Grace Melzia Bumbry was an African American opera singer who revolutionized the world of opera by shattering racial barriers in the music industry.
Bumbry’s career began taking off when she made her debut at the Paris Opera and signed a contract with Theater Basel, the municipal theater of Basel, Switzerland. She gained international recognition when she was cast as Venus in Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhauser at the 1961 Bayreuth Festival in Germany, in spite of the controversy surrounding her race.
Bumbry’s success continued with performances at renowned opera houses and concert halls worldwide. In the 1970s, she transitioned from mezzo-soprano to soprano roles and achieved great acclaim for her portrayal of characters like Salome. Grace Bumbry’s efforts and dedication further earned her a series of prestigious awards and recognition, including the John Hay Whitney Award, Richard Wagner Medal, and honorary degrees from St. Louis University.
Beyond her performances, Bumbry was known for her commitment to mentoring young singers and advocating for the benefits of hard work and concentration. Despite her demanding schedule, she found time to visit her family and engage in community outreach activities.
Grace Melzia Bumbry sadly passed away on May 7, 2023, leaving a remarkable legacy for generations to come. As we honor her memory and achievements, Grace Bumbry remains a shining example of the transformative power of music.
Sungjin Yun Staff Reporter
1. Who is Grace Melzia Bumbry, according to paragraph 1?
2. How did Bumbry debut? When did she gain international recognition?
3. What did Bumbry do during the 1970's? What are some of the awards that she won?
4. What else was Grace Melzia Bumbry known for, beyond her performances? What are the activities she engaged in?
1. Have you ever listened to opera? What is your impression of it?
2. Do you think achieving success as a black woman was harder in the past? Explain.
3. What is your opinion of Grace Bumbry? Are there other black women who achieved a similar level of success?
4. How can musicians contribute to society? What role does music play in today's society?