The Legacy Project
The National Opera Association recognizes the importance of ethnic and racial diversity in professional opera. The Legacy Project of the National Opera Association is established to achieve that goal by recognizing the contributions of those who have led progress toward that goal, and to assist, through career development grants, those who demonstrate potential to advance the goal.
Background and History
The Legacy Program of the National Opera Association began in 1995, in observance of the 50th anniversary of singer Todd Duncan’s contract with New York City Opera. It was the first contract for an African-American singer with a major US opera company, and has become the focal point for the National Opera Association's recognition of the outstanding contributions of African-American artists to opera in America.
The inaugural event of the Legacy Program took place in Boston in December of 1995 as the joint initiative of the NOA and the W. E. B. DuBois Foundation at Harvard University. In conjunction with NOA’s annual convention, over 300 singers, conductors, and educators gathered from around the world to honor Todd Duncan, Mattiwilda Dobbs, Robert McFerrin, and Camilla Williams as the first recipients of the “Lift Every Voice” Legacy Awards.
The “Lift Every Voice” Legacy Award recognizes significant contributions to the operatic profession. While the majority of the recipients are recognized as leading soloists, recipients have also included conductors, directors, composers, and educators.
Along with the establishment of the “Lift Every Voice” Legacy Awards, the National Opera Association also began the Legacy Career Development Grant Program to encourage and assist the participation of young artists of racial and ethnic minorities in all phases of professional opera. To achieve that goal, an endowment fund has been established that will support career development grants to singers, conductors, coaches, directors, designers, composers and librettists.
"Lift Every Voice" Legacy Award Recipients
Etta Moten Barnett
|Sylvia Olden Lee
Anne Wiggins Brown
Charlotte Wesley Holloman
Leslie Savoy Burrs
|2006||H. Leslie Adams
|2009||Robert Owens||Luther Saxon|
|2010||Curtis Rayam||Marie Hadley Robinson|
|2011||Donnie Ray Albert|
|2013||Edward Pierson||Gwendolyn Bradley|
|2014||Willie Anthony Waters|
|2015||Louise Toppin||Olive Moorefield Mach|
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