Bumbry, Grace (Melzia Ann )
- Alan Blyth
- , revised by Meredith Eliassen
(Melzia Ann )
(b St. Louis, MO, Jan 4, 1937). American mezzo-soprano and soprano. Bumbry started singing in church and youth choirs. She won a scholarship to a local music school through a talent contest organized by the St. Louis radio station KMOX. However, the school was segregated and refused to admit the African American Bumbry. KMOX executives then arranged for an appearance on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (CBS). Bumbry’s break came in the form of scholarships to Boston University, Northwestern University in Chicago, and then the Music Academy of the West with Lotte Lehmann, and in Paris with Bernac. Bumbry made her debut in 1960 at the Paris Opéra as Amneris in Aida. She then joined Basle Opera in 1960, performing for four seasons. Bumbry explored Europe’s superior artistic opportunities—she was the first black artist to appear as Venus in Tannhäuser at Bayreuth in 1961. Her New York debut at Carnegie Hall came in ...