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DGF is focused on the intersection of social justice, American history, and the arts. Deeply inspired by the achievements of America’s hidden musical figures, the foundation is invested in doing research and educating the public about their remarkable stories of courage and persistence. From enriching our musical heritage to preparing the diverse pool of tomorrow’s vocal stars, DGF will positively impact how artists are valued in this nation, encouraging inclusive opportunity, access, and advocacy for the next generation.



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APRIL 11 - MAY 5, 2024

Mary Cardwell Dawson Exhibit at Pittsburgh Opera

Our Hidden Voices Exhibit makes its way to Pittsburgh, the home of Mary Cardwell Dawson's Opera House. This exhibit supplements performances of THE PASSION OF MARY CARDWELL DAWSON and a panel discussion about Cardwell Dawson by Denyce Graves.


WQXR: Young Artist Showcase

Young Artists Showcase is a WQXR weekly radio show that since 1978 has sought out and displayed the talents of young emerging artists. Featuring performances and interviews by DGF Shared Voices members. WQXR’s Young Artists Showcase is supported by The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation.

APRIL 11, 2024

DGF & Sing for Hope at Union Station

4:30 to 6:30PM

Washington DC

Sing for Hope partners with hundreds of community-based organizations, mobilizes thousands of artists in creative service, and produces artist-created Sing for Hope Pianos across the U.S. and around the world.




William Franklin

William Franklin, (baritone) was born near Shaw, Mississippi and began singing in the church choir with his grandmother. After the family moved to Chicago, he attended Wendall Phillips High School where he sang in the Glee Club and played trombone in the school orchestra. He went on to graduate from the Chicago Conservatory of Music and performed several times in the trombone section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the WGN Symphony Orchestra. He remained based in Chicago and was represented by the Redpath Bureau office in that city. He began his professional career as a jazz singer and trombonist but switched to opera in the late 1930s. He sang Amonasro opposite La Julia Rhea’s Aïda in a benefit production by the Chicago Lyric Opera in the summer of 1937, and reprised the role for the initial performances of the National Negro Opera Company (NNOC) in 1941 and 1942. He sang in the NNOC performances of Verdi’s La Traviata in 1943-44 opposite Lillian Evanti. Through the 1940s he sang primarily in productions of the NNOC and in Gilbert and Sullivan productions in Chicago.


DGF is rooted in the belief that now is the time to increase our nation’s commitment to its artists, both past and present—for America’s future and for the whole world. In paying homage to the achievements of so many who have gone before while serving the real needs of today’s emerging artist singers, The Denyce Graves Foundation is giving back and paying it forward at the same time.



The Denyce Graves Foundation is proud to partner with the following Music Conservatories for the 2022 - 2023 Shared Voices program. Click on each institution's logo to learn more. 

1050 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste. 500

Washington, DC 20035

1740 Broadway, 15th floor

NYC, NY 10019


© 2023 The Denyce Graves Foundation

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Our Federal tax ID is 86-2276658. 

The Denyce Graves Foundation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. 

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Blacktastic Honors Living Legend Denyce Graves: Elevating the Hidden Voices of Black History and Shaping Tomorrow’s Stars 

Arts for Learning Maryland is honored to feature Denyce Graves, internationally recognized mezzo-soprano opera singer, as this year’s Blacktastic living legend! While the annual virtual festival traditionally features Black historical figures from days past, Denyce stands out as a musician actively writing her chapter in Maryland’s history book today. In addition to being an Emmy and Grammy Award-winning vocalist, mother, wife, and educator, Denyce is an arts nonprofit pioneer making sure the path is clear for the young musicians of tomorrow through the work of the Denyce Graves Foundation.

Opera singer Denyce Graves is ready to 'turn the page' with new Foundation that champions overlooked musical voices 

BALTIMORE SUN: Denyce Graves, artistic director and founder of the Denyce Graves Foundation, talks about the foundation. She is in her studio at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University where she is a faculty member. Graves created the foundation to promote equality in classical vocal music, bring the stories of those not given attention to light and support young artists. 

WETA Arts Presents A Conversation with Denyce Graves: Her career, mentorship, Foundation, and future plans

The February episode of WETA Arts, the locally-produced television program of WETA that celebrates visual and performing arts in the Washington, D.C. area, will present a special feature on world-renowned mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, with a focus on The Denyce Graves Foundation (DGF), which seeks to advance equity and inclusion in American Classical vocal artistry with an innovative approach that includes seeking out “hidden musical figures” of the past. 



The Denyce Graves Foundation is proud to partner with the following Historically Black Colleges and Universities for the 2022 - 2023 Shared Voices program. Click on each institution's logo to learn more. 

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