Andrew Frierson (born March 29, 1929, Columbia, Tennessee) is an American operatic baritone and music educator. He was part of the first generation of black opera singers to achieve success and is viewed as part of an instrumental group of performers who helped break down the barriers of racial prejudice in the opera world. In 2000 he was the recipient of the Legacy Award by the National Opera Association, an award given annually to recognize the contributions made by African-American artists to opera in America.
Life and career
Born in Columbia, Tennessee, Frierson was raised in Kentucky. He earned degrees in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School, and has taught on the voice faculties of Southern University and Oberlin College. At Juilliard he studied voice with Belle Julie Soudant; the teacher of opera singers Frances Bible and Gloria Davy. In his early career he was a member of The Belafonte Folk Singers with whom he performed and made recordings both with and without Harry Belafonte.
Frierson made his professional opera debut in 1958 as Cal in Marc Blitzstein's Regina with the New York City Opera; a role which he also recorded with the NYCO on disc for Sony. He continued to perform with the NYCO for the next six consecutive seasons, portraying such roles as Henry Davis in Street Scene, the King in Aida, the Messenger/the Shepherd in Oedipus rex, Schlémil / Wolfram/ Hermann in The Tales of Hoffmann, and the title role in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.
In 1960 Frierson performed the role of Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte with the Chautauqua Opera; notably touring with that production to Bermuda. In 1961 he portrayed Joe in the New York City Center revival of Jerome Kern's Show Boat opposite Jo Sullivan Loesser as Magnolia, Anita Darian as Julie, Robert Rounseville as Gaylord, and Carol Brice as Queenie. He notably sang the song Ol' Man River on The Ed Sullivan Show. In 1975 he appeared jointly with his wife, soprano Billie Lynn Daniel, in recital at Alice Tully Hall. In 1980 he performed the role of Cal in the Houston Grand Opera production of Regina.
- Wallace Cheatham (1997). Dialogues on Opera and the African-American Experience. Scarecrow Press. pp. 9–23.
- "The Legacy Project". National Opera Association. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
- "Belle Julie Soudant Dead: Taught Voice at Juilliard" (PDF). The New York Times. February 11, 1975. p. 42.
- Eric Salzma (October 16, 1959). "3 Debuts Heard In Street Scene". The New York Times.
- "Three New Singers Join Cast of 'Aida'". The New York Times. October 20, 1961. p. 38.
- Eric Salzma (October 5, 1959). "Four Take New 'Oedipus Rex' Roles, One in 'Burana'" (PDF). The New York Times.
- Harold C. Schonberg (March 6, 1965). "Music: Once Again, 'Porgy and Bess'; City Opera Presents Work by Gershwin". The New York Times.
- "Opera in Bermuda" (PDF). The New York Times. August 5, 1960.
- Lewis Funke (April 13, 1961). "Kern's 'Show Boat' Score Retains Beauty in City Center Revival" (PDF). The New York Times. p. 32.
- Ann Barry (March 30, 1975). "Arts and Leisure Guide; Highlights & Index to Listings Arts and Leisure Guide Arts and Leisure Guide Arts and Leisure Guide Arts and Leisure Guide Arts and Leisure Guide Arts and Leisure Guide". The New York Times.
- "Jesse Goins, Actor, Weds Andrea Frierson, Actress". The New York Times. November 6, 1977. p. 78.