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JULY 11, 1925 - DECEMBER 8, 2015

Known for her pure, bell-like timbre, effervescent singing, impeccable musicianship, and lightning-fast runs, soprano Mattiwilda Dobbs is considered one of the greatest coloraturas of her generation. Her La Scala debut in 1953 as Elvira in Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri marked the first time an African American sang a lead role in that house. She sang a command performance before Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Opera House in 1954 and broke through the color barrier at San Francisco Opera a year later. The first African American female to sing leading roles with the Metropolitan Opera, Dobbs sang to critical acclaim on five continents. Having graduated as valedictorian from Spelman College, she studied with Lotte Lehmann, won numerous competitions and awards, and sang throughout Europe. Eventually, she joined the faculty of Howard University and taught privately in Washington, D.C. Throughout her career, Dobbs advocated for social justice and, refusing to sing for segregated audiences, did not sing in her own hometown until 1962.



Video Credit: songbirdwatcher

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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. Join our change-making efforts by supporting DGF with a donation today.

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