black opera singer

7 Black Opera Singers You Should Know

Opera has a long and rich history, but it has not always been inclusive. For many years, Black opera singers were denied opportunities to perform on the world’s greatest stages.

Today, there are many Black opera singers who are dominating the stage, both nationally and internationally. These singers are breaking down barriers and inspiring a new generation of artists.

In this article, we will highlight seven Black opera singers who you should know. These singers are all incredibly talented and accomplished, and they are making significant contributions to the world of opera.

Black Opera Singers

J’Nai Bridges has been heralded as a rising star, gracing the world’s top stages in repertoire ranging from traditional favorites to world premieres to spirituals and standards.

Russell Thomas is an American operatic tenor. He has performed leading roles at some of the worlds leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, the English National Opera, among others.

South African native, Sunnyboy Dladla made his successful BBC Proms debut in the 2018 festival with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle.


American-born tenor Lawrence Brownlee captivates audiences and critics around the world, and has been hailed as “an international star in the bel canto operatic repertory” and “one of the most in-demand opera singers in the world today”.

Pretty Yende, OIS is a South African operatic soprano. She has performed leading roles at opera houses internationally, including La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera.

John Thomas Holiday, Jr., is an American operatic countertenor who has won several major music competitions and has appeared in supporting and leading roles with several American opera companies.


Pumeza Matshikiza, a Lyric soprano from South Africa graduated Cum Laude, then at the Royal College of Music, London with a full three-year scholarship and in the Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.


Vuvu Mpofu taught herself to sing by mimicking the singers on two opera DVDs and, several years later, her talent was spotted by a voice coach. Now, the soprano has mentors in the world’s foremost opera companies.


Sir Willard Wentworth White, OM, CBE is a Jamaican-born British operatic bass baritone. In 1976, he made his London opera debut with English National Opera. He has since sung at the Met, Covent Garden, Paris Bastille, the opera houses of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the major European cities.

Solomon Howard is a graduate of Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He garners high praise from the press for his vivid performances on the great opera and concert stages of the world.

Hailing from Norfolk, Virginia, young tenor Frederick Ballentine is a graduate of Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, and the Los Angeles Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program.


by Tony O. Lawson

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