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Robert McFerrin Sr. was an American baritone and the first African American male to be contracted by the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 1953. He paved the way for other Black artists to perform at the Met and broke the color barrier in classical music. During his time at the Met, McFerrin performed in several productions, including "Aida," "Il Trovatore," and "La Bohème." He also created the role of Sidney in the world premiere of the opera "The Saint of Bleecker Street" by Gian Carlo Menotti.

In addition to his work at the Met, McFerrin was also known for his voice work in the film adaptation of George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess." He provided the singing voice for Sidney Poitier's character, Porgy, in the 1959 film. McFerrin continued to perform throughout his career and taught voice at the University of California, Berkeley until his retirement. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 87. Sources for this information include The New York Times and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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