President Obama to award the National Medal of Arts National Endowment of the Arts award to George Shirley, Board Member for the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts
(WASHINGTON, DC – Thursday, September 10, 2015) The Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA), a 501c3 non-profit arts organization dedicated to promoting Blacks in classical music and others in the performing arts, salutes one of its Board Members, George Shirley, as a recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts – NEA Award. President Barack Obama will present the award to Shirley in conjunction with the National Humanities Medals on Thursday, September 10, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. ET in an East Room ceremony at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama will also attend. Shirley is joined in this recognition by such luminaries as actress Sally Field and author Stephen King.
The first African American tenor to sing in a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera, Shirley has captivated audiences for more than 50 years with his masterful performances. As a pioneer and as a teacher, he has paved the way for generations of aspiring African American opera singers and was the catalyst behind founding the national George Shirley African American Art Song, Operatic, and Aria Competition featuring three categories of repertoire, including art songs, spirituals and operatic for high school and college students. The competition, begun in 2011, is held annually as part of Videmus, Inc.
Shirley’s contributions as a CAAPA Board Member, whose vision is to help “Bring Color to the Classics!”, began in 2013 with his insightful ideas to help move forward the organization’s educational programming. He, along with fellow CAAPA board members Angela Renee Simpson, Issachah Savage, and Patrick D. McCoy, jumpstarted the organization’s national initiative in 2014, with the MasterClass Series, by offering free master classes conducted by well-known Black classical musicians, to colleges and high schools throughout the United States, with a focus on Historically Black Colleges and University’s Music Departments. Shirley will also serve as Honorary Host for the first-ever CAAPA sponsored “Arias at Sea: Blacks in Classical Music Cruise”, a year from now, November 6–13, 2016 sailing from the Port of Baltimore for 7 days. The historic sailing includes onboard performances by soprano Simpson, tenor Savage, bass-baritone Marvin Lowe, pianist Lester Green, and others, with onshore recitals in Nassau and Freeport, Bahamas. Visit CAAPA’s website at http://www.4caapa.org for additional details and http://arts.gov/news/2015/president-obama-award-2014-national-medals-arts or for information regarding Shirley’s most recent award.
CAAPA (Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts)