The Life You Give: Peter Pears *VI 22 1910

Sir Peter Pears, born Peter Neville Luard Pears, June 22, 1910, in Farnham, Surrey, England, is the tenor, a singer of outstanding skill and subtlety who was closely associated with the works of Sir Benjamin Britten. He received a knighthood in 1977.Pears studied at the University of Oxford, at the Royal College of Music, and… Continue reading The Life You Give: Peter Pears *VI 22 1910

The Life You Give: Paul McCartney *1942

Paul McCartney, born James Paul McCartney, June 18, 1942, in Liverpool, England, is the vocalist, songwriter, composer, bass player, poet, and painter whose work with the Beatles in the 1960s helped lift popular music from its origins in the entertainment business and transform it into a creative, highly commercial art form. He is also one… Continue reading The Life You Give: Paul McCartney *1942

The Life You Give: Eva Marton *1943

Hungarian soprano Eva Marton has enjoyed a highly successful career on the world's leading operatic stages since the late '60s. With her powerful, attractive voice she has managed to score numerous successes in the Italian spinto roles of Verdi and Puccini, the heftier roles of Wagner and Richard Strauss, and the more delicate but equally… Continue reading The Life You Give: Eva Marton *1943

The Life You Give: Hugh Laurie *1959

Hugh Laurie, born James Hugh Calum Laurie, June 11, 1959, in Oxford, England, is comic actor perhaps best known for his role on the television series House (2004–12). Laurie was educated at Eton College and Selwyn College, Cambridge. His father won a gold medal at the 1948 London Olympics as a member of the British… Continue reading The Life You Give: Hugh Laurie *1959

The Life You Give: Barbara *1930

Although Barbara certainly didn't like the thought of it, she actually was part of the legendary club formed by her friend Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens, Léo Ferré, and Edith Piaf. A truly generous and humble woman, Barbara insisted on living up to her audience's expectations and was constantly questioning her success. As an artist, she… Continue reading The Life You Give: Barbara *1930

Happy Birthday, Tom Jones *1940

Tom Jones, born Thomas John Woodward, June 7, 1940, in Pontypridd, Wales, is the singer with broad musical appeal who first came to fame as a sex symbol with a fantastic voice and raucous stage presence. He was known best for his songs “It’s Not Unusual,” “What’s New, Pussycat?,” “Green, Green Grass of Home,” and… Continue reading Happy Birthday, Tom Jones *1940

The Life You Give: Cecilia Bartoli *1966

Cecilia Bartoli, born June 4, 1966, in Rome, Italy), is an operatic mezzo-soprano who achieved global stardom with her outstanding vocal skills and captivating stage presence. Both of Bartoli’s parents were members of the Rome Opera chorus, and she joked that when she was a child, her babysitters were the likes of Rossini and Verdi.… Continue reading The Life You Give: Cecilia Bartoli *1966

The Life You Give: Josephine Baker *1906

Josephine Baker, born Freda Josephine McDonald, June 3, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., is the dancer and singer who symbolized the beauty and vitality of Black American culture, which took Paris by storm in the 1920s.Baker grew up fatherless and in poverty. Between the ages of 8 and 10 she was out of school,… Continue reading The Life You Give: Josephine Baker *1906

The Life You Give: Shirley Verrett *1931

Shirley Verrett was one of America's finest opera stars and recital singers, and was one of the remarkable generation of great African-American singers who came to international prominence in the 1950s and 1960s.She studied voice in Los Angeles with Anna Fitziu and Hall Johnson. In 1955, she won the nationally broadcast CBS program Arthur Godfrey's… Continue reading The Life You Give: Shirley Verrett *1931

The Life You Give: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau *1925

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, born May 28, 1925, in Berlin, Germany, was an operatic baritone and preeminent singer of lieder, distinguished for his lyrical voice, commanding presence, and superb artistry. Fischer-Dieskau studied with Georg Walter before serving in World War II and with Hermann Weissenborn afterward. In 1947 he made his concert debut in Johannes Brahms’s Ein… Continue reading The Life You Give: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau *1925

The Life You Give: Teresa Stratas *1938

Stratas was one of the controversial stars of the latter half of the twentieth century, and one whose personality and life, like that of Callas, another great soprano of Greek descent, are inextricably linked with her performances in the minds of many members of the public. Also like Callas, she had a special magnetism as… Continue reading The Life You Give: Teresa Stratas *1938

The Life You Give: Joe Cocker *1944

After starting out as an unsuccessful pop singer (working under the name Vance Arnold), Joe Cocker found his niche singing rock and soul in the pubs of England with his superb backing group, the Grease Band. He hit number one in the U.K. in November 1968 with his version of the Beatles' "A Little Help… Continue reading The Life You Give: Joe Cocker *1944

The Life You Give: Ella Fitzgerald *1917

Ella Fitzgerald, born Ella Jane Fitzgerald, on April 25 1917 in Newport News, Virginia, U.S.A., is the jazz singer who became world famous for the wide range and rare sweetness of her voice. She became an international legend during a career that spanned some six decades. As a child, Fitzgerald wanted to be a dancer,… Continue reading The Life You Give: Ella Fitzgerald *1917

The Life You Give: Carmen McRae *1920

Carmen McRae, born April 8, 1920, New York, N.Y., U.S.A., is the jazz vocalist and pianist who from an early emulation of vocalist Billie Holiday grew to become a distinctive stylist, known for her smoky voice and her melodic variations on jazz standards. Her scat improvisations were innovative, complex, and elegant.McRae studied classical piano as… Continue reading The Life You Give: Carmen McRae *1920

The Life You Give: Dolora Zajick *March 24 1952

Dolora Zajick (ZAH-chik) is among the world's leading dramatic mezzo-sopranos, unsurpassed in Verdi's mezzo roles. Birgit Nilsson in 1991 stated that "Zajick's voice is the only one existing today without any competition in the world." She comes from a large family of Czech descent. As a pre-medical student at the University of Nevada, she took… Continue reading The Life You Give: Dolora Zajick *March 24 1952

The Life You Give: Rosalind Elias *1931

Mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias had a long, leading career in opera on the international scene. She was most often heard at the Metropolitan Opera, where she spent more than 40 years as part of its company. There, and elsewhere, she performed in many American and world premieres. Opera, Blood, and Tears presents The Life You Give:… Continue reading The Life You Give: Rosalind Elias *1931

The Life You Give: Simon Estes *March 2 1938

One of just a few African-American male singers who has had a top-rank international operatic career, bass-baritone Simon Estes grew up in Iowa in a house without heat or indoor plumbing. He sang in church as a youth, but when he enrolled at the University of Iowa in the late '50s he had never heard… Continue reading The Life You Give: Simon Estes *March 2 1938

The Life You Give / Virtuous Black XXVII — Marian Anderson *1897

Marian Anderson, born on February 27 1897, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., was one of the finest contraltos of her time.Anderson displayed vocal talent as a child, but her family could not afford to pay for formal training. From the age of six, she was tutored in the choir of the Union Baptist Church, where she… Continue reading The Life You Give / Virtuous Black XXVII — Marian Anderson *1897

The Virtuous Black XXVI: Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald, born Ella Jane Fitzgerald, on April 25 1917 in Newport News, Virginia, U.S.A., is the jazz singer who became world famous for the wide range and rare sweetness of her voice. She became an international legend during a career that spanned some six decades. As a child, Fitzgerald wanted to be a dancer,… Continue reading The Virtuous Black XXVI: Ella Fitzgerald

The Life You Give: Renata Scotto *1934

Renata Scotto's long and successful operatic career was marked by a rare combination of dramatic intensity and vocal flexibility, which allowed her to traverse a wide variety of styles. She believed strongly in the theatrical elements of performing and always focused her energies on the meaning of a text. She also felt much of the… Continue reading The Life You Give: Renata Scotto *1934

The Virtuous Black XXII: Shirley Verrett

Shirley Verrett (accent on the last syllable, VerrETT) was one of America's finest opera stars and recital singers, and was one of the remarkable generation of great African-American singers who came to international prominence in the 1950s and 1960s.She studied voice in Los Angeles with Anna Fitziu and Hall Johnson. In 1955, she won the… Continue reading The Virtuous Black XXII: Shirley Verrett