In My Own Words
By Marketta A. Nixon
SeeingBlack.com Junior Writer
Leontyne Mary Price was born February 10,1927. She was a famous
African American opera singer. She was born in Laurel, Mississippi.
She started piano lessons at age four. She started singing in the
church choir not many years far from her piano lessons. In 1936
she attended a recital in Jackson Mississippi by Marian Anderson,
a famous African-American Opera singer at that time.
After seeing Anderson, Price decided she wanted to be a musician
and singer. At this time, the only role for a Black woman other
than performing was teaching. She attended Central State College,
a Black college in Ohio, to study teaching. But before here final
year in 1949 at Central State, she was encouraged to attend the
famous Julliard School of Music in New York City. Price studied
Price first sang professionally in a 1952 show with an all-Black
cast called Four Saints in Three Acts by composer Virgil
Thompson. Price traveled to New York and Paris, France performing
in the show. Her performance would win her the part of Bess in George
Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.
The role would bring Price international recognition as she toured
the world performing as Bess. She would go on to perform in dozens
of operas, singing different types of music: German, Spanish, French
and Slavic works. Price also performed with the San Francisco Opera
Company, the Vienna State Opera La Scala in Milan, Spain, and with
the famous Metropolitan Opera Company in New York City.
She retired from her career in 1985, after more than thirty years
of performing. She is still alive today and currently lives in New
York City. For her contributions to opera, Price was given the title
"La diva di tutte le dive" Italian for "Opera's foremost goddess".
-- April 9, 2001
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