BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Remembering the Women During Black History Month

Posted by sherrysaunders on February 10, 2012

This Day in History

1927 – Opera singer (Mary) Leontyne Price was born in Laurel, Mississippi. She rose to international acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s, and was one of the first African Americans to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera

After studying at Wilberforve College (now Central State University) in Ohio, she went to the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Leontyne Price scored a major success when, in 1952, she appeared as Bess in Porgy and Bess in Dallas, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. The following year, Porgy and Bess played in London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and New York.

She was the first Black to sing opera on television. She made her La Scala debut as Aïda in May of 1960.  She debuted at the old Metropolitan Opera House as Leonora in Il Trovatore in January 1961.

The Emmy award winning singer continued to appear in recitals and concerts until early-2000.  During her illustrious career she was awarded the Presidential Medial of Freedom and the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal.

Roberta Flack

1937- Singer, songwriter Roberta Flack was born in North Carolina, and grew up in Virginia.  She is a noted American singer, songwriter, and musician, who despite being classically trained, is know for singing jazz, soul, R&B, and folk music. Flack is best known for her  #1 singles including “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face“, “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love“, as well as “Where Is the Love” and “The Closer I Get to You“, two of her many duets with Donny Hathaway. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” won the 1973 Grammy Record of the Year and “Killing Me Softly with His Song” won the same award at the Grammy Awards of 1974. She and U2 are the only artists to win the award in consecutive years.

During her early teens, Flack so excelled at classical piano that Howard University awarded her a full music scholarship at the age of 15. She eventually changed her major from piano to voice and became an assistant conductor of the university choir. Flack became the first African-American student teacher at an all-Caucasian school near Chevy Chase, Maryland. She graduated from Howard University at 19 and began graduate studies in music.  She was discovered singing at a club on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

In 1999, Flack’s name and star were placed on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. That same year, she gave a concert tour in South Africa, including a performance attended by President Nelson Mandela.  She has new album coming out in 2012.

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