Benjamin Banneker Academy in observance of Black History Month will celebrate weekly, the life and contributions of African Americans. Today we will be featuring Leontyne Price
Mary Violet Leontyne Price was born and raised in Laurel, Mississippi, by Kate, a midwife, and James, a sawmill worker. Her family and church choir director encouraged her musical talents, suggesting she pursue a career in music. She enrolled in Central State College and graduated with a degree in music education; she then studied at The Julliard School under the tutelage of her instructor, Florence Page Kimball, and the great Paul Robeson.
Inspired by operatic diva Marian Anderson, Price sang the role of Bess in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. In 1955, amid much protest, Price sang the lead in Puccini's Tosca, broadcast on NBC TV. This historic broadcast was a major success and served to establish future opportunities for black opera singers.
Leontyne Price gave her last public recital in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Today, she is content to promote her new projects and make guest appearances. Price is as beautiful and majestic as ever, and her voice seems just as remarkable. She says, " I was sensitive enough to leave my era and not have it leave me."
Leontyne Price (b.1927)