Billie Lynn Daniel

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Billie Lynn Daniel is an African-American operatic soprano and composer. A winner of several notable vocal competitions, she is best known for her portrayal of Clara in Porgy and Bess and for her work as an exponent of American art song. She has performed the world premieres of works by composers Richard Hundley, William Flanagan, and Claude Debussy among other composers.


Born and raised in Queens, New York City, Daniel made her Broadway debut as one of the Female Saints in the revival of Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts with Leontyne Price.[1] She made her professional recital debut at Carnegie Hall in 1959 with The New York Times stating "[Daniel is] a vocalist who has something to say in song repertory, and the voice and the technique with which to say it".[2] She performed in recital at Carnegie Hall again in 1970.[3]

A graduate of the Juilliard School, in 1961 Daniel won both the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Town Hall Recital Award .[4][5] That same year she portrayed Clara in the New York City Center revival of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess with William Warfield and Martha Flowers in the title roles.[6] In 1962 she performed the world premieres of Claude Debussy's Les Papillons and William Flanagan's Moss with pianist Lowell Farr at Town Hall in New York City.[7][8] In 1963 she won the Marian Anderson Award in Philadelphia.[9]

In 1972 Composer Richard Hundley wrote his song cycle Birds, U.S.A. with text by James Purdy for Daniel.[10] In 1975 she appeared jointly with her husband, baritone Andrew Frierson, in recital at Alice Tully Hall.[11] In 1981 she sang Clara in concert with Thomas Carey as Porgy, Cab Calloway as Sport'n Life, and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.[12] She composed music for Margaret Yuen and the Red Silk Dancers adaptation of J. E. Franklin's Black Girl in 1993.[13]

Daniel and Frierson's daughter, actress Andrea Frierson, married actor Jesse D. Goins in 1977.[14] Andrea later married actor David Toney.


  1. ^ Leontyne Price: Highlights of a Prima Donna. Vantage Press. 1973.
  2. ^ J.B. (March 23, 1959). "Billie Lynn Daniel Gives Song Recital". The New York Times. p. 27.
  3. ^ "Who Makes Music and Where". The New York Times. April 12, 1970. p. 145.
  4. ^ Alumni News. Juilliard News Bulletin. 1–2. p. 120.
  5. ^ "Soprano Wins Audition: Town Hall Recital Award Given to Billie Lynn Daniel". The New York Times. April 14, 1961. p. 25.
  6. ^ Dan Dietz (2014). The Complete Book of 1960s Broadway Musicals. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 73–74.
  7. ^ Jane F. Fulcher (2001). Debussy and His World. Princeton University Press. p. 99.
  8. ^ William Flanagan. Pap Pipes. 54. 1961. p. 49.
  9. ^ "Three New Yorkers Win Marian Anderson Grants". The New York Times. October 25, 1963. p. 36.
  10. ^ Victoria Etnier Villamil (2004). A Singer's Guide to the American Art Song: 1870-1980. Scarecrow Press. p. 218.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ W.U. McCoy (December 7, 1981). "'Porgy and Bess' A Sparkling Show". NewsOK.
  13. ^ Direct Dial. The New Yorker. 69. 1993. p. 24.
  14. ^ "Jesse Goins, Actor, Weds Andrea Frierson, Actress". The New York Times. November 6, 1977. p. 78.