Black Voices

Black Voices: Opera singer Angela Brown made her mark in the music world



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Soprano opera singer Angela Brown knew she wanted to be a singer since she was a little girl. She had a deep passion for music and did not care if she was getting paid or is anyone was listening.

“I have often said I was too stupid to stop,” Brown said.

But people listened.

From performing for the Metropolitan Opera in New York to winning Best Black Music Podcast of 2020 by the Black Podcasting Awards for her podcast Melanated Moments in Classical Music, Brown has spent decades in the music profession.

She studied vocal performance at Jacobs School of Music in the 1990s. While at IU, she was able to learn from some of opera’s greats such as Virginia Zeani. Brown was a vocal coach for the IU Soul Revue, which is part of the African American Arts Institute.

Brown said she was able to thrive and had a wonderful experience at IU.

“I thought I would be a little fish in a big pond, but ended up being a big fish in a big pond,” she said.

During her college years, Brown tried out for National Council Auditions of New York's Metropolitan Opera. The first few times, she made it through district rounds but was cut at regionals.

Instead of letting that discourage her, Brown kept on pushing.

The fourth time she competed in the competition she went on to win nationals. After winning, a wide door of opportunity was opened as she entered in the world of professional music. That did not come without challenges, but she said she always keeps a positive mindset.

“I try not to frame anything that I want in life as hard,” Brown said.  

Brown debuted in Verdi’s "Aida" in 2004 at the Metropolitan Opera. The opera was about an African love triangle between a soldier from Egypt and a princess from Ethiopia, and her performance was well-received and critically-acclaimed. She was granted an appearance on the front page of the New York Times in November 2004.

Brown sung all over the world — from Opéra National de Paris to Cape Town Opera in South Africa. While she has traveled to so many countries that she has lost count, Brown said her performance in South Africa was specifically memorable because she felt connected to the motherland.

“Singing that in Africa with Africans…was amazing,” she said.

Aside from an opera performance career, Brown recently began a new method of entertainment — podcasts.

She is a co-host of award-winning Melanated Moments in Classical Music. Brown and her co-host, Joshua Thompson, discuss the intersection between race and music through bringing Black musicians to light. It specifically spotlights Black composers and creativity. The first season features William Grant Still, Evelyn Simpson Curenton, Thomas Wiggins, Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou.

The podcast came out during a year that has been full of emotional hardship for Black people in America. It is not only a difficult time for Black people, but also young professionals who hope to enter the world of professional music soon.

Brown said it is important for young people to create their own opportunities and keep an open mind. That is what she did and found great success throughout her career.

“Don’t be afraid,” she said. “Fear is something that you think is coming. You have the whole future ahead of you, literally, to make it your own. Go for your destiny, however that is going to look.”

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