What is Grace Bumbry famous for

The famous American mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry was born Melzia Ann Bumbry and daughter of a railroad worker in St. Louis, Missouri, on January 4, 1937. At the age of eleven she sang in the choir of the Union Memorial Methodist Church, and later in high school. When she was fifteen years old, the St. Louis Music School refused to accept her - because of the color of her skin, at the age of 17 Grace Bumbry left the city of her birth. Before starting her glamorous career, she studied at the University of Boston and later in Santa Barbara, California with the legendary opera singer and teacher Lotte Lehmann1) (1888-1976). She achieved her first success in an audition competition at the New York "Metropolitan Opera", and further prizes opened up a brilliant career for her in Europe. In 1958 she made her stage debut at the Basel City Theater, in 1960 she shone with the role of Amneris in Verdi's "Aida"2) at the Paris Opera, a year later in Bayreuth she was the first colored singer to interpret Venus in Wagner's "Tannhäuser"2) in a production by Wieland Wagner, was finally established in Europe and became the "Black Venus of Bayreuth"; for her achievement she was honored with the "Wagner Medal", which experts called a "little sensation".

The photo was kindly sent to me by the
Photographer Virginia Shue (Hamburg) provided.
Virginia Shue has the copyright.

In the years that followed, Grace Bumbry was on stage at all the major opera houses in the world, for example in 1964 at the Salzburg Festival with the title role in Verdi's "Macbeth"2), as well as from 1964 to 1966 at the Milan "Scala", where she was also known as "Carmen"2) celebrated triumphs in Bizet's opera of the same name. At the Vienna State Opera in 1970 she interpreted Santuzza in Pietro Mascagni's "Cavalleria rusticana" as a young farmer's wife2) for the first time a pure soprano role, in the same year she was celebrated at the London "Covent Garden" as "Salome"2) in the opera of the same name by Richard Strauss; there she also excelled in 1973 with the title role in Puccini's "Tosca"2).
Princess Eboli in Verdi's "Don Carlos" is undoubtedly one of the highlights of her career.2)with which she delighted opera goers at the 1985 "Met", among other places. Grace Bumbry has the voice and the technical skills that Verdi obviously had in mind when he conceived this role, there has hardly been a better "Eboli" in the last few decades and that is perhaps even more valuable than being a black Venus.3)

Grace Bumbry with the title role in Verdi's "Macbeth"
at the Hamburg State Opera (January 22, 1980)
The photo was kindly given to me by the photographer Virginia Shue (Hamburg)
made available. Virginia Shue has the copyright.
In the field of contemporary music, for example, the opera diva stood out at La Scala in Milan in 1974 as "Jenůfa"2) in Leoš Janáček's opera of the same name, a year later in Paris as Ariane in "Ariane and Bluebeard"2) (Ariane et Barbe-Bleue) by Paul Dukas, but especially as Bess in Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess"2)which she sang at the Met in 1985, among others.
More recently, Grace Bumbry has made guest appearances in Paris, London, Munich and Vienna, gave a glamorous concert in Hanover at the "Expo 2000" and in the summer of 2001 she again took over the master class at the "Mozarteum" in Salzburg.
In addition to the opera, the singer, who is undoubtedly one of the most important singers of our time with her vocal versatility and her instinct for drama, is also connected to the art song, giving concerts with works by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Liszt, for example. In 2002 she honored her esteemed teacher and mentor with the "Recital in Hommage to Lotte Lehmann", among others also in the Munich "Prinzregententheater".
In 2007 Grace Bumbry sang recitals and arias in Kiel, Hamburg, London, Paris, Moscow, Vienna and Tokyo, among others. Grace Bumbry gives master classes worldwide. In spring 2010 she returned to the opera stage after 13 years. Grace Bumbry sang the role of Monisha in Scott Joplin's only opera "Treemonisha" with Adina Aaron and Willard White at the "Théâtre du Châtelet" in Paris. Here she appeared again in the spring of 2012 with a recital with selected titles by American composers. Shortly afterwards, in March 2012, Grace Bumbry gave the role of "Old Lady" alongside Simone Kermes in the concert premiere of the opera "Candide" by Leonard Bernstein at the "Deutsche Oper Berlin". In January 2013 she sang the Countess for the first time in Tchaikovsky's "Pique Dame" at the "Wiener Staatsoper". In addition, Grace Bumbry has numerous commitments as a teacher in master classes and a juror at singing competitions, as well as the founder of the vocal and opera academy at the Berlin University of the Arts in 2009.

The photo was kindly given to me by
made available by photographer Virginia Shue (Hamburg).
Virginia Shue has the copyright.
The numerous prizes awarded by the artist, who has been awarded an "honorary doctorate" from "Ebner-Rust College" (Holy Springs, Missouri) and the "University of Missouri" (St. Louis), include the Wagner Medal mentioned above UNESCO, which she also named "Ambassador". She was honored with the American "Guild of Musical Artists Award", received in France the "Ordre des Arts et des Lettres"2) (1996), in Italy the "Premio Giuseppe Verdi" - to name but a few. In December 2009 she was awarded the "Kennedy Center Honors" from the American President Barack Obama from the "Kennedy Center" in Washington D.C. awarded for her life's work.4) 

Grace Bumbry was married to the Polish tenor Andreas Jaeckel, who acted as her manager, since 1963; In 1972 the divorce took place.

Grace Bumnry at a reception at the "White House" on December 6, 2009
Author: U.S. Federal Government
Information on the license see here; Source: Wikimedia Commons