Denyce Graves

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Denyce Graves
Denyce Graves.jpg
Denyce Graves in concert
Born March 7, 1964
Washington, D.C.
United States
Occupation Opera Singer (mezzo-soprano)

Denyce Graves (born March 7, 1964) is an American operatic mezzo-soprano.

Early life[edit]

Graves was born on March 7, 1964, in Washington, D.C., to Charles Graves and Dorothy (Middleton) Graves-Kenner. She is the middle of three children and was raised by her mother on Galveston Street, S.W., in the Bellevue section of Washington.[1] She graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in 1981. Graves studied voice at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the New England Conservatory with Helen Hodam.[2] She worked at the Wolf Trap Opera Company, which provides further training and experience for young singers who are between their academic training and full-time professional careers. Soon after, she was invited by David Gockley to participate in the Houston Opera Studio, from 1988 to 1990, where she studied with Elena Nikolaidi.


She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1995[1] and has appeared at many opera houses. Though her repertoire is extensive, her signature parts are the title roles in Carmen and Samson et Dalila. On January 20, 2005, she sang the patriotic song "American Anthem" during the 55th Presidential Inauguration, between the swearing-in ceremonies of Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush for their second terms in office.[3]

Graves sang "America the Beautiful" and "The Lord's Prayer" at the Washington National Cathedral during a memorial service for the victims of 9/11 on September 14, 2001, attended by President Bush, members of Congress, other politicians and representatives of foreign governments.[4]

In 2003, Graves performed in front of a live audience at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia for a television special, Denyce Graves: Breaking the Rules. In 2005, she hosted the radio show Voce di Donna (Voice of a Lady) on Vox!, the vocal classical music channel of XM Satellite Radio, on which she interviewed various opera singers. Graves often was heard on The Tony Kornheiser Show radio program with her rendition of the "Mailbag Theme".

She performed the role of Charlotte in the opera Werther opposite Andrea Bocelli for the Michigan Opera Theatre, the first opera broadcast on the Internet in its entirety in 1999.[citation needed] She is currently an industry panelist on American Idol Underground.[citation needed]

On January 2, 2007, Graves performed "The Lord's Prayer" at the state funeral for Gerald Ford at the Washington National Cathedral.[citation needed]

Graves sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" as part of the pre-game ceremonies inaugurating Nationals Park.[citation needed]

On April 12, 2009, Graves performed a tribute concert to Marian Anderson at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, organized by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.[citation needed] In May 2010, Graves performed a concert with tenor Lawrence Brownlee in the United States Supreme Court Building for the Supreme Court justices.[5]

On the evening of September 11, 2011, Graves performed at the "Concert for Hope" at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. That same year, she appeared as a Pennington Great Performers series artist with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra.[citation needed]

On June 15, 2013, Graves sang in the world premiere of Terence Blanchard's and Michael Cristofer's boxing opera, Champion with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

In 2014, Graves served as Artistic Director for the operetta Qadar by Tony Small, commissioned by the Smithsonian and Sultanate of Oman. The world debut was at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center's Kay Theatre in December 2014.

Graves performed "Lift Every Voice and Sing" with the Voices of Tomorrow Choir at the dedication ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. on September 24, 2016.

Graves is currently on the voice faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]


  1. ^ a b Tommasini, Anthony (October 14, 1995). "Denyce Graves, From the Choir to Carmen". The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2009. 
  2. ^ Denyce Graves.
  3. ^ Baker, Peter; Fletcher, Michael A. (January 21, 2005). "Bush Pledges to Spread Freedom". The Washington Post. p. A1. Retrieved October 9, 2009. 
  4. ^ McCarthy, Ellen (September 14, 2009). "Third Wedding's a Charm for Denyce Graves". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 9, 2009. 
  5. ^ Barnes, Robert (May 17, 2010). "Opera-loving justices bring the music to the high court". The Washington Post. 

External links[edit]