Sunday, November 17, 2013
This was my first recital at Morgan State University Thursday November 14th 2013.
Etta & I had both been battling the fear of catching colds for several days. But in spite of this, our evening was very successful. In the photos above are all who helped in making this a lovely performance.
Mr. Vincent Dion Stringer 3rd from the left in the 3rd photo from the top; is the gentlemen responsible for my being hired on faculty as "Artist in Residence."
His loving support was given in every way possible.
My wife Etta Russell-Scott, who performs with me in most of my concerts, was very well received.
I am very proud to say that she is a product of my studio, also bringing her professional artistry as a cellist to the stage, in my presentation of "Oh Quand je dors" by Franz Liszt.
Mr. Marvin Mills was a welcome delight as accompanist for the Bel Canto Repertoire. He and Etta were an absolute joy for me to perform with on that Liszt piece.
What gave the evening it's final magical touch, was the Jazz piano skills of Mr. Nori Ochiai.
Who came together with me as we had on many occasions before, paying homage to a very great American art form. When I called to see if he could play the date, his response was one of real joy.
Next thing I knew he was here in Baltimore, having come all the way from New York City.
He is my musical partner and my dear, dear friend.
People have sometimes asked with curiosity about the title of my evening. Rather than go into a long explanation I find it best for them to experience me live; and I think their questions would be answered. and from the heart of "The Art of Jazz and Bel Canto"
Sunday, September 15, 2013
"The Black Voice"
Until recently, only a few critics and Opera lovers have spoken about“The Black Voice”. It was Toscanini who praised the phenomenal vocal gift of Marion Anderson, saying it was one of the wonders of the world. Check out the 1934 recording of her singing Brahms.
Like wise, the same was thought of Leontyne Price by Herbert Von Karajan. These two gentlemen were the greatest conductors nationally and internationally.
Because of the terrible cancer “Racism” Many great artists fled The United States to find appreciation for their unique vocal abilities.
We now have been blessed with the beauty and excellence of Lawrence Brownlee “Tenor” who is considered by most, to be one of the greatest voices of our time.
Some time ago the New York Times printed in the Arts section; is there such a thing as a “Black Sound.” Without hesitation myself and many others gave a resounding yes. In a book on vocal pedagogy and the art of Bel Canto Singing; A native Italian clearly states that Black voices are richer and have greater range in the upper and lower part of the column. Some might call this quality dark, but I think the term “rich” says it better.
What also was a back handed compliment, in the case of the great Tenor Roland Hayes; He was given The title: “The Black Schipa” as in Tito Schipa.
Schipa was the tenor who shared fame at the time with Enrico Caruso.
We like to think of Mr. Hayes, not as The black Schipa but the one and only “Roland Hayes”.
Another 19th century voice was Adelina Patti born in 1843 and viewed as one of the Iconic figures of her time. Again, an African American Soprano Sissieretta Jones born in 1868 was given the title “The Black Patti” another great artist respected only if she were in some way associated with her white counterpart.
Black men such as Lawrence Winters, Charles Holland, Robert McFerrin, Thomas Young, Leslie Scott and many more I could name, were purposely ignored.
Charles Holland returned to America to perform at Carnegie Hall. He was 73 and the magic of his singing was ever present. He returned to his home in Berlin where, he like Lawrence Winters in Munich, shared their great talents with German audiences. For Holland that was one of the only appearances we know of, in his own country.
Europe recognized the magnitude of these artists and were it not for the European Understanding; many great gifts would have been lost forever.
Leslie Scott was one who literally got buried before the world could witness all that he had to offer.He did however sing opposite Ms Price in Porgy and Bess and toured all over Europe.
He returned to America where he passed at age forty eight. Broken hearted, with the knowledge that his own country refused to see or hear him.
I speak knowingly because Leslie Scott was my father.
Last but not least Paul Robeson, a truly great voice. One who sang and spoke for the masses.
He was exiled from his country for crying out for all mankind.
He was not allowed to re-enter until he was on his death bed.A truly great loss.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Students who were leaving Morgan State University, having achieved their goal of receiving a degree were about to become apart of the American workforce.
Feelings of joy and sadness ran extremely high for both teachers and students.
Pictures from my former blog help to show the excitement and warmth of this graduation ceremony.
Watching each student walk the runway to receive their diploma, was a truly great moment!!!!
My runway experience at this time led me to Hagerstown Maryland, where I became one of five judges for The Miss Maryland Pageant, and Miss outstanding Teen for 2013.
The process was extremely intense, every day during the week leading to the final choice of Miss Maryland and Miss Outstanding Teen.
Judged on Fitness, Oral Communication, Bathing Suit, Talent, Evening Gown, Beauty, Poise, and a demeanor, that is in keeping with the duties of their positions; We the judges had the difficult job of choosing the two young ladies out of twenty four in each category that we thought, met the desired qualifications.
Left: Christina Denny Miss Maryland 2013 / Right: Sabrina Frost Miss Outstanding Teen 2013
Below are the five judges for the pageant.
Kenneth Kamal Scott, Brenda Thomas, Dennis Momyer, Danae DeMasi and Devin Holmes
Everyone was shocked to learn that I was the first African American dancer on the Miss America Pageant back in the days of Bert Parks, Bess Myerson, and The Atlantic City Runway.
I was chosen by Peter Genero (Choreographer) who used me also, on the Ed Sullivan show every Sunday for over two years.
Thinking back to the other time, I have to say that The Miss America pageant in those days was truly a"FABULOUS"experience. However, our producer Sherry Rush and her assistant Jonathan Black worked tirelessly to maintain the standards of the past, where beauty and brains were expected if you were to wear the crown.
While we were there, we learned that the pageant was returning to her home in "Atlantic City" to once again bring to the boardwalk "Beauty on the Runway".
The Judges and contestants who also placed.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
It was a joyous occasion filled with such a deep sense of pride. Seeing so many young African American men and women graduating from college ready to go forward, helping to make our world a better place.
I was honored to be a part of the vocal faculty, that has inspired and shaped these talented voices that will undoubtedly, be a tremendous addition to the art world.
Below are a few moments captured for posterity
It's hard to believe that the time has passed so quickly that this young lady and almost a thousand others of the Morgan State Family, will no longer be on campus.
We share in the joy of their accomplishments and with pride say: "JOB WELL DONE"
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Kenneth Kamal Scott, Anamer Castrello, Janice Chandler Eteme, and Vincent Stringer, the soloists for this matinee performance of the Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the Morgan State Choir and Orchestra on May 5th. With us Walter Kennedy second from the left, one of our advanced vocal students.
I have blogged earlier about my colleagues, Vincent Dion Stringer and Ms Janice Chandler Eteme.
However,the above photo is of our lovely Anamer Castrello. Mezzo Soprano and a member of our wonderful vocal faculty.
Ms. Castrello is like a warm summer breeze. Always a pleasure when we greet and a smile that lights the room.
Presently she is sharing her wonderful voice and talent in the production of Show Boat at The Washington National Opera at Kennedy Center.
We the faculty and students of Morgan State University are fortunate that she is a member of our vocal family.
Her rich beautiful Mezzo in Beethoven's 9th symphony helped to bring the power and excitement to the work which it deserved.
She and I have often had conversation about the rich Latin American music or "Zarzuela" A form of Spanish Opera.
Anamer Castrello is a singer's singer; A true artist!!
This young lady is Ms. Anne Bragg.
This photo was taken after her senior graduate recital.
I am proud to say that Ms.Bragg came from my studio and gave a very fine senior recital.
In keeping with the theme of Harmony, Ms.Bragg has been accepted into The New York University vocal department.BRAVO!!!!
Last but by no means least,and a true moment of harmony; My becoming a "SINFONIAN"
An honor of which I am still in awe. I was invited by the brother's of Phi Mu Alpha to become a fraternity member and pledged as if I were a young man just beginning his journey.
How could I have ever guessed, that my devotion to my art would result in a living Symphony. "SINFONIA"
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
"THE MATINEE IDOL"
Leslie was exactly that, suave,debonair and his voice a thing of beauty.
His stunning good looks and charm made him an absolute winner, especially with the ladies.
Hollywood had already defined their idea of male beauty in actors such as Clark Gable, Alan Ladd, Sir Lawrence Olivier, and Tyrone power to name a few.
Leslie was all that and more!! But he arrived on the scene when the art world rejected people of color, whose abilities demeanor and excellence posed a seeming threat to the white establishment.
Maybe I seem somewhat prejudiced or one sided; but I think I have that right because Leslie,(Leslie Scott) was my father. A man who exemplified for me, all that I thought a great artist and true representation of masculine beauty should be.
When he walked into a room or down the street, frequently people would gasp or take a moment to catch that little extra glance. I loved it because I knew they recognized in him a true "Matinee Idol".
The shot above displays what was so very obvious.
In my memoir which I am still writing, I am much more forthcoming with regards to our father son relationship and the respect he earned from friends and colleagues.
Recently we acknowledged the passing of one of his leading ladies in "Porgy and Bess"Ms Gloria Davy.She left us on November 28th 2012 at the age of 81.
Ms Gloria Davy was born in Brooklyn New York March 28th 1931.
She made her home in Geneva Switzerland where she passed after a very long illness.
These images of her help us to remember an elegance of a time long gone.
The picture with my father was shortly after she replaced Leontyne Price in the role of Bess.
Ms Davy had performed fifteen roles in four seasons at The Metropolitan Opera but because of racial sickness in our country she was forced to seek employment abroad, where more roles were offered and not denied because of her color. "A Tremendous Loss"for The USA.
Here is a small review written in an Italian newspaper in Milano concerning Leslie and Ms Davy in their debut at the famed "La Scala" Opera house.
In a way I wish they had been critiqued more for their vocal excellence rather than (as they put it) "The Torrid Love Scene".In which I'm sure they were most titivating.
On and off stage they were simply "Delicious.
In this most historic photo we see Leslie Scott, Leontyne Price and Cab Calloway (Sportin Life) in a recording session of Porgy and Bess at CBS. Notice the insignia on the microphone.
Leslie had toured the world with Ms Price and was fortunate to have replacements of similar excellence when destiny called, and the voice of the century was born !!!!
Leontyne Price set a standard of vocal beauty that to this day has not been surpassed.
Those of us who were there at her beginnings will never forget the many moments.
Last but not least we see Leslie Scott, Helen Hayes and Martha Flowers. Another understudy to Ms Price.
Not so well known of his leading ladies was Irene Williams depicted in this article from Jet Magazine.
Although Leslie Scott passed at age 48, his accomplishments were many.
The matinee idol with shoes to big for anyone to fill, he is still remembered by many as a romantic, an artist,a friend and a Father.
He was our true, "Matinee Idol"
Sent from my iPad
Sunday, March 3, 2013
"ODE TO JOY"
SINGER ON A MISSION
Vincent Dion Stringer is a man of great vision. Not for himself alone but for young artists who are willing to invest their
heart and soul to commit to becoming a consummate communicator.
Since I arrived on the campus of Morgan State university I have witnessed his unselfish leadership as coordinator of Vocal Studies for The Department of Fine and Performing Arts of which he heads, as Assistant Professor and Artistic Director of OPERA at Morgan.
We have all recognized as faculty and students, how fortunate we are to be led by an artist of international status. Acclaimed for the beauty of his Bass Baritone and his knowledge of Operatic Literature, Musicianship,and stage presence, he sets a standard and a tremendous sense of pride.
Tonight we witnessed his artistry as soloist in Beethoven's Ninth symphony,held at Chizuk Amuno Congrgation of Baltimore under the direction of Maestro T. Herbert Dimmock.
Mr. Stringer shared the stage with other soloists, plus THE MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY CHOIR led by Dr. Eric Conway,
and THE MARYLAND STATE BOYCHOIR,Stephen Holmes, Artistic Director.
There were well over one hundred voices and they were accompanied by THE BACH CONCERT SERIES CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA which topped off the presentation and was truly lovely.
As I sat taking it all in, I saw a community perpetuating the very idea that Mr.Stringer is slowly nurturing in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Morgan.
On our Morgan Website you can see from the past and present, some of the exciting projects he has put together.
He involves the entire ARTISTIC COMMUNITY AT MORGAN creating a support system.
This is a rare insight and a blessing. He reminds us that it does take a VILLAGE. This is a man on a mission!!!