Susan Powell (Miss America)

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Susan Powell
Powell in 1981
Born (1959-03-24) March 24, 1959 (age 65)
Alma materOklahoma City University
Years active1980–present
TitleMiss Oklahoma City 1980
Miss Oklahoma 1980
Miss America 1981
PredecessorCheryl Prewitt
SuccessorElizabeth Gracen

Susan Carol Powell (born March 24, 1959) is an American actress, singer, and television personality. A native of Elk City, Oklahoma, Powell began her career as a successful beauty pageant contestant, winning the Miss Oklahoma pageant in 1980 and proceeded to the Miss America crown for the year 1981. A coloratura soprano, she has performed in musical theater and on opera stages around the world. In 1993, Powell embarked on a new television career, becoming the co-host of Discovery Channel's Home Matters home and garden program in 1993.


Powell was born and raised in Elk City, Oklahoma,[1] an 11,000 resident town driven by farming, ranching and oil production. Early on, Powell discovered a talent for singing and with the encouragement of her family, pursued it. As a child she sang in local venues, at church functions, and solo singing competitions.[2]

She attended Oklahoma City University, where she studied vocal music under Florence Birdwell and performed in summer stock at the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma.

After first being crowned Miss Oklahoma, Powell won the 1981 national competition, being named Miss America in September 1980 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

After her one-year reign, Powell embarked on a singing career, debuting with Seattle Opera in the role of Adele in Die Fledermaus. Calling her performance the "major surprise of the evening," a reviewer from Opera Canada praised "her sparkling stage personality" and pronounced her technique as "fully up to Adele's coloratura requirements."[3] Powell's opera career took her to the New York City Opera to the New Japan Philharmonic. She has sung as a soloist for John Williams and the Boston Pops.[1]

Susan Powell, Miss America 1981 signing autographs at a Miss America event in January 2008

In 1993, Powell introduced the television series Home Matters on the Discovery Channel, which she hosted for nine seasons. Powell continues to tour and lecture, assisting in local preliminary Miss America contests and being one of the judges for the Miss America pageant in 2007. In 2002, Powell was recognized by the Oklahoma Hall of Fame as an Ambassador of Good Will from the state for the second time, the first such recognition occurring in 1981.

Miss America 1981 Susan Powell in the 2021 Show Us Your Shoes Parade in Mystic, Connecticut

Powell performed on the television program Don't Forget the Lyrics in the episode of December 12, 2008, appearing along with Heather French Henry (Miss America 2000) and Kirsten Haglund (Miss America 2008).


  1. ^ a b Wilson, Linda D. (2001). "Miss America". Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Oklahoma Historical Society. Archived from the original on July 3, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  2. ^ Pearlman, Penny (2008). Pretty Smart: Lessons from our Miss Americas. Authorhouse. p. 71. ISBN 1-4389-3760-1. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  3. ^ "Review". Opera News. 22. Canadian Opera Association, Canadian Opera Guild. 1981. Retrieved July 16, 2011.

External links[edit]

Media related to Susan Powell at Wikimedia Commons

Awards and achievements
Preceded by Miss America
Succeeded by
Preceded by Miss Oklahoma
Succeeded by