Thursday, February 21, 2019

Harry T. Burleigh Society: Meet Kenneth Overton: Opera Singer, Actor, and Arts Administrator

Kenneth Overton

Harry T. Burleigh Society

Meet Conference Speaker
Kenneth Overton:
Opera Singer, Actor, Arts Administrator

Mr. Overton will be participating and performing in "The Concept of the Concert Spiritual & Black Art Music" at More Than the Promise of the American Myth: Rethinking Burleigh & Sheppard in the Second Gilded Age.
Tell us about yourself and your musical background.

I was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. The start of my formal musical training began at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts. After that, I went to The North Carolina School of the Arts and the Hartt School of Music, majoring in Voice/Opera Performance. 
What people and/or experiences have been most formative in your career?

This is a BIGGIE! First, I would say that as a 15-year-old, seeing Jessye Norman in recital was a life-changing experience. After being told by my high school choir director that I should study classical music, I saw someone who looked like me on a great stage making incredible music. Next, I would say two conductors who taught me so much through their expectation of excellence were Maestro Willie Anthony Waters and Maestro Anton Coppola.
What influence have the works of Burleigh and Sheppard had on you?

Burleigh has had a profound influence in my life. In high school, my choir director would play albums of great singers. One day he played a recording of the great Marian Anderson singing Burleigh's arrangement of Deep River. I remember being incredibly moved by her and that arrangement so I begged my teacher to let me learn it, and he did. Since then, I measure all of the spirituals that I consider singing to the artistry of Burleigh. The beauty, simplicity, and authenticity of his works remain so very special to me. TIMELESS.
Tell us about your future hopes and plans.

In the immediate future, I plan on continuing to share the music of the spirituals in my concerts and recitals all over the world. After that, I can definitely see a full-time career in arts administration or producing. Keeping this music alive is my lifetime mission. 

Fisk Jubilee Singers® 

Sing Harry T. 

Burleigh Spirituals

March 2nd 2019
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall
The Harry T. Burleigh Society 
and the Fisk Jubilee 
Singers® join in a historic 
performance celebrating 
Ella Sheppard (1851–1915), 
an original Fisk Jubilee 
Singer, and Harry T. 
Burleigh (1866–1949), 
leaders of the concert 
spiritual tradition. The Fisk 
Jubilee Singers® will 
perform the music of 
these under-heard cultural 
leaders, and make calls for 

More Than the Promise 
of the American Myth: 
Rethinking Burleigh & 
Sheppard in the 
Second Gilded Age

March 3rd, 2019  
May Room - Weill Terrace 
Room, Carnegie Hall
9am - 3pm 
The Harry T. Burleigh 
Society's first academic 
conference considers 
Burleigh's and Sheppard's 
impact on the concert 
spiritual genre, the 
 historiographic limits of 
composer biography, 
Black art music aesthetics, 
and the liberatory 
capabilities within the 
work of Burleigh, 
Sheppard, and their 
contemporaries. Dr. 
Daphne Brooks will deliver 
the keynote address. 
Other speakers include Dr. 
Louise Toppin, baritone 
 Kenneth Overton, Dr. 
Crystal deGregory and 
descendants of Burleigh 
and Sheppard.

Free and open to the 

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