Saturday, March 31, 2012 At Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Event in Accra 'Professor Kwabena Nketia...was on hand to fill in the gaps'

The life and work of a British-born musical genius of African heritage who died a century ago was the subject of a presentation at the WEB Du Bois Centre in Accra on Thursday. 

Entitled ‘Remembering Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’, the presentation, which was organised by UK-based voluntary organisation BTWSC and led by music industry and history consultant Kwaku, highlighted some of the achievements in Coleridge-Taylor’s short life.

Coleridge-Taylor was born in London in 1875 to a British mother and a Sierra Leonean father. He died in 1912, aged 37. Within his short life, he made a great impression within music, both in Britain and internationally, especially in the US, where he successfully toured three times. Within a year of completing his studies at London’s Royal College Of Music, he created two popular compositions in 1898 – ‘A Ballade In A Minor’, and ‘Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast’. The latter, a choral and orchestral piece, was the composition that brought him to global prominence.

In spite of his fame, he prided himself in being African, and incorporated African themes within the classical music genre. He was also a pan-Africanist - he was he a member of the African Association, which organised the 1900 Pan-African Conference in London, where he was in charge of the music programme.

The links with Du Bois and other African-American leaders such as the educationalist Booker T Washingtion, were highlighted in the opening speech by Mr BS Ato Keelson, director of the WEB Du Bois Centre. Other speakers included His Excellency Mr KB Asante, who spoke of his colonial education at Achimota College, where his British music mistress did not only teach about Coleridge-Taylor’s compositions such as ‘Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast’, but also tried to widen their horizons by stressing the fact that the composer was African.

Dr DEK Baku, head of history at the University Of Ghana, spoke about his discovery of Coleridge-Taylor in a book during the research stages for his PhD, which also highlighted other leading pan-African thinkers such as Mensah Sarbah and Kobina Sekyi, both Gold Coasters.

Professor Kwabena Nketia, who experienced performances of Coleridge-Taylor’s music whilst studying in London, was on hand to fill in the gaps regarding Sierra Leonean musicians who had some connection to Coleridge-Taylor.  
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, Major observances of the Centennial of Coleridge-Taylor's death on Sept. 1, 1912 are underway and are the work of organizations including the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation,] 'Are African American artists unfairly stereotyped as tragic?'

On March 28, 2012 AfriClassical posted: “Bob Shingleton: 'Huffington Post piece which pre-dates our own posts on Philippa Schuyler by several years.'” Bettina Network, Inc. made this comment today:

“I am always amazed at these characterizations of Philippa Schuyler and other African American artists who become large, well-known, acknowledged with mastery over their art, etc. They are always characterized in this way of 'tragedy'. Philippa had a pretty incredible life. Her death was a tragedy which many of us don't believe was an accident. She was an acknowledged, accomplished pianist, which was her passion and she achieved a status which few do even in the 30 plus years of her short life. Why does this negativity surround all African American artists? Why such characterizations and so consistent. I could do a language study on what is said about African American artists who are at the top of their fields and it will all read the same. 

“None of us has a trouble free existence. We all have problems and all of our lives could be called tragic simply because we are human and exist. Report on her accurately and without this drama. She was an infinitely interesting, imaginative, humane, beautiful person, who reached a height with her art that few of us can even dream of reaching. and she had a freedom to practice her art which few of us ever achieve. What a blessed life she lived. And what a gift she gave to us all. I knew Philippa growing up and this exaggeration of her circumstances is not true and biased writing.”

AfriClassical forwarded the above comment to Bob Shingleton, who has replied:

“Thanks Bill, I have expanded this into a post as it raises an interesting question -

I hope I am write in who I have attributed the comment to.

Although the comment came from a commercial site it appears to have been posted by Marceline Donaldson of the Philippa Schuyler Committee. Whatever the source, the comment is thought provoking coming from a writer who seems to have known Philippa. Are African American artists unfairly stereotyped as tragic? Are portrayals of Rudolph Dunbar, Dean Dixon and Everett Lee here and elsewhere too negative?”

Claves Piano Quintet in 'Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op. 1' of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor on YouTube (8:47)

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)]

The YouTube video was uploaded March 18, 2010; the is dated 31 March 2012.

Claves piano quintet coleridge taylor samuel. Categoria musica. Subido el 31032012 043922. Coleridge Taylor was born in Holborn London to a Sierra Leonean Creole...”

Uploaded by natangren on Mar 18, 2010 
"Coleridge-Taylor piano quintet Op.1- Gm-Mov. I allegro con moto.wmv"

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, Major observances of the Centennial of Coleridge-Taylor's death on Sept. 1, 1912 are underway and are the work of organizations including the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation,] 'Jeri Lynn Johnson invites teenagers onto the podium to lead her Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra into a wailing heap.'

[Jeri Lynn Johnson, music director of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, leads a rehearsal at the High School of the Future. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)]

March 31, 2012 
By Peter Crimmins 
Video by Lindsay Lazarski [2:12]

When an orchestra is working the way it should, the music sounds effortless. Notes just pour off the stage as though there were no other way for them to exist.  When an orchestra is not working, it sounds like a train wreck.

Jeri Lynn Johnson invites teenagers onto the podium to lead her Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra into a wailing heap. As part of the organization's education mission, young people can have their first stab at conducting
"It's a lot harder than just waving your arms around," said Johnson. She instructs her musicians to follow the lead of the young conductor exactly, even if that lead breaks down. Inevitably, the rhythm goes off and strings collide with winds. The kids learn instantly, viscerally, how important it is for an orchestra to work together, under a steady wand.

They also learn what it feels like -- just for few fleeting seconds -- to own an orchestra.  The Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra has a strong populist mission. The musicians come from a range of races and backgrounds so audiences new to classical music can relate to the action on stage.

John Malveaux Suggests CDs of Composers of African Descent for Classical Music Radio

[George Walker: Great American Orchestral Works, Vol. 3; Albany Records TROY1334 (2012)]

John Malveaux of sends his comments, and those of Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma and Jim Svejda. While only one radio host is named, the suggestions are suitable for other classical music broadcasts as well. Readers may wish to suggest some of the recordings to their own local radio hosts:

John Malveaux
Below are earlier requests emailed to Jim Svejda,, and responses from Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma (who was copied on requests). Jim Svejda also responded to request for George Walker. MusicUNTOLD has received a copy from Jim Svejda of a five (5) hour interview with George Walker. 

I have heard William Grant Still's Symphony No. 1 in A flat, "Afro-American" Symphony, on KUSC more than one time, but do not recall hearing one of his operas. "Highway One" is a short opera (about an hour) and can be produced with only one set. William Grant Still, Highway One (Opera) Albany Records Troy 734.

Distinctly different from the "Afro-American" Symphony is William Dawson's "Negro Folk Symphony". The "Negro Folk Symphony" is in three movements. The first movement, 'The Bond of Africa,' opens with a haunting theme played by solo French horn that may symbolize a call to the ancestors or a break in the human chain due to the slave trade. During the approximate 37 year tenure of now retired Los Angeles Philharmonic African American French horn playerRobert Watt, I dreamed of seeing and hearing Mr. Watt play the opening solo.
Pianist Natalie Hinderas performed with major orchestras across the United States and abroad including the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. See This is to request NATALIE HINDERAS Piano Music by African American Composers (2 CD set). CRI 629. 

In 2008, I attended a recital by emerging pianist William Chapman Nyaho at Loyola Marymount. Senku: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent, MSR Classics MS 1091. 

Dominique-René de Lerma

Dear John,
Natalie was one of my most cherished friends. She was a gentle but ardent champion of Black music as soon as she was free from domestic obligations. A splendid pianist and very sweet person, loved by all. It was Hale Smith who phoned me that she was quite ill with cancer. 

Beyond the CD reissue by CRI of her earlier LP, there remains still a second LP that has not been reissued (Natalie Hinderas plays sensuous music). Her real name was Natalie Henderson, then Mrs. Lionel Monagas -- the name change suggested by Olga Samoroff-Stokowski (born in Texas as Olga Hickenlooper). Her career encouraged a friend, Joanne Rile, to get into artist management (which has since soared). Her mom, Leota Henderson, was also a pianist and composer. A work of hers is included on the single LP recorded privately by her student John White, former faculty member at Lincoln University (PA) who died of AIDS soon after his Carnegie Hall debut. She also taught Leon Bates and was on the faculty of Temple University.

John Malveaux
Ulysses Kay was a member of the State Department's first cultural exchange with the Soviet Union and a prolific composer. Please see the Ulysses S. Kay page at This is to recommend "ULYSSES KAY : Works for Chamber Orchestra,” Metropolitan Philharmonic Orchestra, Kevin Scott Conductor; "MARKINGS: Symphonic Essay-A Tribute to Dag Hammarskjold,” London Symphony Orchestra, Paul Freeman Conductor. Also see world premiere of Ulysses Kay: "Once There Was A Man" - William Warfield, narrator, Detroit Symphony, Sixten Ehrling, conductor

George Walker has an extensive discography. I attended the west coast premiere of "Lilacs" at California State University-Dominguez Hills. See Please see list of recording at 

Dominique-René de Lerma
Yes, George Walker's position is at the very top of composers and pianists. Further, one of his sons, Dr. Gregory Walker, is worth very serious attention. I'm afraid I do not know any of his music, but it is known that he is a quite independent thinking -- I'm reminded of the distance between J.S. Bach and Johann Christian. He appears in his father's discography as a violinist. I hope we need wait not much longer before he is represented on CD as a composer.

Jim Svejda
Did you hear the five-hour program I did with George? It actually aired twice.

Errollyn Wallen on 'One Night': 'The title song is from my album ERROLLYN and is available from iTunes'

ERROLLYN; Avie (2004)

On March 24, 2012 AfriClassical posted: “Errollyn Wallen on BBC One Drama 'ONE NIGHT': 'I wrote the music and my song Daedalus is used.'” GeorgeI posted this comment:

“Just finished watching the final episode of One Night. I was absolutely enchanted by Daedalus, beautiful stuff. Do you know if it's possible to download/buy it anywhere?” March 30, 2012

Errollyn Wallen has made this reply:

“Dear George,
I am very pleased that you enjoyed One Night. The title song is from my album ERROLLYN and is available from iTunes at

Best wishes,


Alex said...
It's available on iTunes at
mike bacon said...
iTunes store has it
sharon said...
I was utterly captivated by your beautiful song - it was so arresting, it's what made me watch the series and I've been googling Is this the life? to no avail as the credits rolled too quickly. Thank you for writing something so haunting - I]d love to buy/download it. Sharon Sweeney
sharon said...
I was so captivated by your haunting song and have spent ages Googling to listen again and find out what it is - I missed it on the credits. The song is what hooked me - and then I found the drama really gripping. In fact the music and cinematography were fantastic throughtout. Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful melody. Sharon Sweeney

Errollyn Wallen
Dear Sharon, I am thrilled that you like my song Daedalus. I loved writing and performing it.  Being part of the ONE NIGHT team was a wonderful experience.  All best wishes, Errollyn

Errollyn Wallen
Thank you Bill! It's wonderful how your blog has helped spread the word about my music.  All very best, Errollyn

Could it also be your music is attracting readers to the blog?  Sharon Sweeney mentioned Googling your program to identify its music.  I just searched for "Errollyn Wallen One Night" on Google.  The first two search results were the AfriClassical blog posts of March 24 and 31, 2012!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Patrick McCoy of 'Kennedy Center names J'nai Bridges recipient of 2012 Marian Anderson award'

J'nai Bridges 

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts press office informed the DC Performing Arts Examiner today that mezzo-soprano J'nai Bridges is the recipient of the center's 2012 Marian Anderson Award.   Bridges will receive $15,000 and be presented in recital on Monday, September 10, 2012 in The Terrace Theater at 6 p.m.  This award is bestowed upon an accomplished artist in mid-career.  Bridges shared with the DC Performing Arts Examiner her gratitude for the award.

"For me this honor is extremely encouraging and is confirmation that hard work really does pays off. Receiving the Marian Anderson Award is particularly sentimental because Mrs. Anderson opened doors that would have been previously closed to me. I am overwhelmed with joy and am motivated and will continue to make beautiful music." Bridges said.

Dominique-René de Lerma Invites Suggestions for Black Music History Text

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Clarinet Quintet (35:39); Harold Wright, clarinet; Virginia Eskin, piano; Michael Ludwig, violin; Hawthorne String Quartet; Koch 3 7056 2H1 (1992)]

Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma writes:
Dear Bill,

For several years, I have wanted to modify the Black music history text I have used for classes at Morgan State, Peabody, Florida State, Columbia College, and Lawrence University so that it might serve the needs and interests specifically of undergraduates and others. 

I now think I can put other projects to temporary rest and give all of my attention to that project. Because I intend to work fast, such concerns will be immediately welcomed. Consideration will certainly be given to other matters (jazz, blues, gospel, etc.) but the basic thrust will be on (international) concert composers and performers. Recordings to be cited will be limited to those with which I have personal knowledge. 

As I draft plans and become more mindful of the readership and space limitations, I would like to have the thoughts and suggestions from all interested persons, not just faculty and students, but especially those following and contributing to your postings.

Dominique-René de Lerma

Bahamas National Youth Choir in 2012 World Choir Games, Cincinnati July 4-14

Bahamas National Youth Choir Are Participants in 2012 World Choir Games

The world’s largest choral competition will have its American premiere in Cincinnati this summer, when the World Choir Games comes to town on July 4-14. More than 360 choirs from 48 countries have registered to participate in this year’s event, which has previously been held in Austria, China, Germany, South Korea, and elsewhere. With 23 competitive categories that encompass a vast range of choral genres, the World Choir Games is one of the world’s largest musical competitions, and will attract thousands of participants and attendees to Cincinnati.

The selection of Cincinnati as the site of the seventh biennial World Choir Games has drawn attention to the city’s historic reputation as an important regional center for choral music. This tradition is evident in the Cincinnati May Festival, a two-week choral celebration that dates back to the 1840s, and is the oldest annual choral festival in the Western hemisphere. The May Festival emerged from Cincinnati’s tradition of hosting Saengerfests, large-scale choral competitions that were produced by the city’s German immigrant community throughout the 19th century. The Festival is held in the Cincinnati Music Hall, a historic Venetian Gothic building constructed in1878 specifically for the event.
A. J. Fox
Assistant Account Executive
Resnicow Schroeder Associates
1995 Broadway, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10023

The Crossroads Project and the School of Theatre at Illinois State University host guest artists OperaCréole

(March 6, 2012) Normal, IL. The Crossroads Project and the School of Theatre at Illinois State University will hostguest artists OperaCréole, an operatic ensemble from New Orleans, LA, for a series of free programs, including a special concert with community choirs, beginning Thursday, March 29, 2012. Their visit is in conjunction with the College of Fine Arts production of the operatic masterpiece, La Bohème.
Opera and classical music in New Orleans and around the world have always included the contributions of persons of color. The Créoles of New Orleans have made contributions to the music and culture of New Orleans.Their participation in opera (as well as influences from the music of Africa, Spain, and Haiti) contributed to the birth of jazz. OperaCréole prides itself on exploring this cultural history of New Orleans through opera performance and education.

On Thursday, March 29, OperaCréole will give the lecture demonstration “Opera as Therapy” at 11 a.m. inCook Hall, Room 308. At 1 p.m. on the same day, the ensemble will conduct a master class in Kemp Recital Hall.On Saturday, March 31, their visit to Illinois State will culminate in a concert with combined community choirs at 5 p.m. in the Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall.

Immediately after the concert, the Black Actors Guild will host a reception in the Center for the Performing Arts lobby at 6 p.m. Following the reception, there will be a 7:30 p.m.performance of La Bohème in the Center for the Performing Arts Theatre. All OperaCréole events (except the performance of La Bohèmeare free and open to the public.

OperaCréole’s guest artist residency is co-sponsored by Illinois State University’s Office of the President, Office of the Provost/Sage Fund, MECCPAC (A Dean of Students Diversity Initiative)the College of Fine Arts, and theSchools of Music and Theatre.  Additional support is provided by Illinois Wesleyan University’s School of Music, where OperaCréole will conduct a master class for opera students.

For more information about OperaCréole, please visit

Salisbury Post: Judith Anne Still 'will conduct a workshop on' William Grant Still at Livingstone College at Noon Wed. April 4

[Africa: Piano Music of William Grant Still; Denver Oldham, piano; Koch International Classics 3-7084-2H1]

Salisbury Post
Salisbury, North Carolina

Nat King Cole’s brother headlining Livingstone concert series

Friday, March 30, 2012 

By Laurie D. Willis
Livingstone College News Service
Internationally renowned jazz artist Freddy Cole, brother of legendary crooner Nat King Cole, will headline this year’s Livingstone College Spring Concert series.
Embracing Musical Excellence is the theme for this year’s musical performances, which begin at 6 p.m. Monday with an outdoor jazz concert.

On Tuesday, opera scenes, featuring Dr. Richard Heard, will be performed at 6 p.m. in Varick Auditorium.

At noon Wednesday in the Walls Center Chapel...Judith Anne Still, president of William Grant Still Music Company based in Flagstaff, Ariz., will conduct a workshop on her father, who is widely considered the dean of African-American composers.

[William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,]

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dominique-René de Lerma: 'This is a list of Black singers in their Met debuts after Miss Anderson'

[Mattiwilda Dobbs]

John Malveaux of writes:

Previously I reported that in the Los Angeles area, I was unaware of main media or black media newspaper coverage of Latonia Moore’s historic 11th hour debut as Aida at the Metropolitan Opera on March 3, 2012. 

Leontyne Price retired from the opera stage at the Met in 1985 with her signature role, Aida. Taken from the Met website, here are African-American first performances - Helmsley Winfield danced in the role of Witch Doctor in The Emperor Jones during the 1932–33 season.

However, Janet Collins was the first African-American dancer engaged by the Metropolitan Opera as solo dancer in a variety of works. She made her debut on opening night, November 11, 1951, as soloist in

Marian Anderson was the first African-American vocal soloist engaged by the Met. She made her debut as Ulrica in
Un Ballo in Maschera on January 1, 1955.

Robert McFerrin was the first African-American male singer engaged by the Met and made his debut as Amonasro in
Aida on January 27, 1955


To the previous report, I received an immediate response from OurWeekly Newspaper as follows:
Thanks for the heads-up. We may be able to use a mention of her debut next week.


The following response came from Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma:
Dear John and friends:
You stimulated the following, even though it is an incomplete (thank goodness) draft. This is a list of Black singers in their Met debuts after Miss Anderson.
1956 Mattiwilda Dobbs, soprano, as Gilda, in Rigoletto (Verdi)
1958 Gloria Davy, soprano, as Aida (Verdi)
1959 Martina Arroyo, soprano, as the celestial voice in Don Carlo (Verdi)
1961 Leontyne Price, soprano, as Leonora in Il trovatore (Verdi)
1961 George Shirley, tenor, as Ferrando in Così fan tutte (Mozart)
1963 Junetta Jones, soprano, as the celestial voice in Don Carlo (Verdi)
1965 Grace Bumbry, mezzo-soprano (later, soprano), as Eboli in Don Carlo (Verdi)
1965 Felicia Weathers, soprano, as Lisa in Pique dame (Chaikovskii)
*1966 Reri Grist, soprano, as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini)
1966 Claudia Lindsey, soprano, as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro (Mozart)
1966 Eugene Holmes, baritone, as Schaunard in La bohême (Puccini)
1967 Gwendolyn Killebrew, mezzo-soprano, as Waltraute in Die Walküre (Wagner)
1968 Shirley Verrett, soprano (originally, mezzo-soprano), as Carmen (Bizet)
1970 Raeschelle Potter, soprano, as the trainbearer in Elektra (Strauß)
1973 Clamma Dale, soprano; Barbara Hendricks, soprano; Melvin Lowery (tenor) 1973 Gary Burgess, tenor, as the sailor in Dido and Aeneas (Purcell)
1973 Matthew Murray, baritone, as Dido in Dido and Aeneas (Purcell)
1973 Elvira Green, mezzo-soprano, as the madrigalist in Manon Lescaut (Puccini) and Orphan in Der Rosenkavalier (Strauß).
1974 Arthur Thompson, baritone, as the Mandarin in Turandot (Puccini)
1974 Margaret Tynes, soprano, as Její Pastorkyna in Jenufa (Janacek)
1975 Leona Mitchell, soprano, as Micaela in Carmen (Bizet); *Willard White, baritone as Golaud (Debussy)
1976 Maria Ewing, mezzo-soprano (later, soprano), as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro (Mozart)
1976 Simon Estes, bass-baritone, as Orestes in Norma (Bellini)
1977 Kathleen Battle, soprano, as the shepherd in Tannhäuser (Wagner)
1977 Hilda Harris, mezzo-soprano, as Wardrobe mistress and Schoolboy in Lulu (Berg)
1977 Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano (later, soprano), as Marina in Boris Godunov (Mussorgskii) and Olga, in Eugène Onegin (Chaikovskii).
1977 Carmen Balthrop, soprano, as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (Mozart)
1977 Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano, as Marina in Boris Godunov (Mussorgskii)
1978 Calvin Simmons, conductor of Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck)
1978 Andrew Smith, as a mate in Billy Budd (Britten)
1979 Phillip Creech, tenor, as Eduardo in Manon (Massenet) and as Beppe in I pagliacci (Leoncavallo).
1979 Christiane Eda-Pierre, soprano, as Constanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Mozart)
1979 Seth McCoy, tenor, as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte (Mozart)
1981 Gwendolyn Bradley, soprano, as the nightingale in L'enfant et les sortilèges (Ravel)
1982 Barbara Conrad, mezzo-soprano, as Azucena in Il trovatore (Verdi)
1982 Myra Merritt, soprano, as the shepherd in Tannhäuser (Wagner)
1982 Mavis Martin, soprano, as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (Wagner)
1983 Jessye Norman, soprano, as Didon and Cassandra in Les troyens (Berlioz)
1983 Terry Cook, bass, as Grenvil in La traviata (Verdi)
1983 David Arnold, baritone, as Enrico in Lucia (Donizetti)
1983 Roberta Alexander, soprano, as Zerlina in Don Giovanni (Mozart.
1984 Hillary Johnson, mezzo-soprano, as Mother in Les contes d’Hoffmann (Offenbach).
1985 Ben Holt, baritone, as Schaunard in La bohême (Puccini) and as Black cat in L’enfant et les sortilèges (Ravel).
1985 Gregg Baker, baritone (Crown), Priscilla Baskerville, soprano (Lily), Vincent de Cordova, John Freeman-McDaniels, tenor (Mingo), *Bruce Hubbard, bass-baritone (Jake), Clinton Chinyelu Ingram, Jay Aubrey Jones, Michael Lofton, Robert Mosley, Donald Osborne, Jerrold Sanders, Michael Smartt, baritone (Jim), Bernard Thacker, Veronica Tyler, Mervin Wallace, and Charles Williams in Porgy and Bess (Gershwin)
1986 Harolyn Blackwell, soprano, as Xenia in Boris Godunov (Mussorgskii) and Posette in Manon (Massenet).
1986 Vinson Cole, tenor, as Rodolfo in La bohème (Puccini) and Alfred in Der Fledermaus (Johann Strauß).
1986 Gail Gilmore, mezzo-soprano, as Kundry in Parsifal (Wagner).
1986 Barbara Hendricks, soprano, as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier (Strauß).
1986 Consuela Smith, mezzo-soprano, as Schwertleite in Die Walküre (Wagner).
1991 Kevin Short, bass-baritone, in Idomeneo (Mozart)
After contacting Andre Graves, he was kind enough to send the following update:
1995 Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano, as Carmen (Bizet)

Comments by email:

Hi Mr.Zick, 
As to this list of Met Debuts add:
Robert McFerrin 1955 as  Amonasro in Aida
Givonna [Givonna Joseph]

Kenneth Tarver has sung  2-3 roles at the Met but has a more extensive career in Europe. Ken is an African American tenor from Detroit.
Byron Hanson

From a list of 338 (as of October 4, 2010) singers, conductors, and dancers who have appeared in at least 250 performances at the Metropolitan Opera as of the 2009/2010 season, Tenor George Shirley is listed with 251 performances and the only African American name familiar to me. See   John Malveaux

I have learned from Darryl Taylor that Phillip Creech and Arthur Thompson are also African American.  John Malveaux