Photo by: Darin Kamnetz
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & FOUNDER
The luscious, deep voice of American mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves has graced nearly all the major world opera house stages and concert halls during her three-decades long career. Her top-label recordings are numerous, and she has been a featured artist on national public television in everything from Great Performances to Sesame Street. A champion of new works, Ms. Graves has premiered operas and song cycles, won competitions and countless awards. Signature opera roles include Carmen and Dalila, as well as the more contemporary Margaret Garner. Recognized worldwide as one of today’s most exciting vocal stars, Denyce Graves continues to receive unparalleled popular and critical acclaim in performances on four continents.
USA Today has called her “an operatic superstar of the 21st Century,” and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution declared, “If the human voice has the power to move you, you will be touched by Denyce Graves.” The combination of her rich, expressive voice and elegant stage presence has allowed her to perform a wide range of repertoire from opera and art song to gospel, musical theater, and patriotic anthems.
In addition to her singing career, the Washington, D.C. native is a much sought-after teacher at The Juilliard School, Peabody Conservatory, and University of Toronto. An Emmy and Grammy award winner, she has also been the recipient of many honorary Doctorates of Musical Arts and has served as both a cultural ambassador and arts advocate on behalf of the country she so dearly loves. A stunning portrait of Ms. Graves can be seen as part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery; her image is represented in the National Museum of African American History and Culture as well.
The opera star was inspired to form The Denyce Graves Foundation in the beginning of 2021 as a means of elevating the lives and work of singers at all stages of their careers while, at the same time, honoring the history and contributions of those who had gone before. Born as a bright light during a dark year for the arts, the foundation began cultivating unique programs. The foundation’s flagship program focuses on researching the accomplishments of America’s hidden musical figures and then celebrating their lives, honoring these musicians of color whose stories have yet to join the American narrative. Another program focuses on encouraging exceptionally talented classical singers of all backgrounds to fulfill their potential. Connecting past to present, the foundation is establishing the legacy of previously unacknowledged artists, allowing their hidden voices to finally be heard and their stories told, while setting the stage for the next generation of history-making opera stars.