Grace Bumbry…Black Venus!

Legendary African-American Mezzo-soprano/Soprano

                                                             …and Civil Rights Trailblazer!

“Genius is not enough…it takes courage to change people’s hearts.”

-Quote from Green Book (2018 movie)

This evening made possible by ECI Pharmaceuticals/John and Barbara Copanos

Please join Venetian Arts Society on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 and Wednesday May 8, 2019 as we pay tribute to the life and artistry of Grace Bumbry, legendary African/American Mezzo-Soprano and Soprano. Tuesday evening begins with wine and hors d’ouvres at 6:00 pm followed by a tribute ceremony from 7:00-8:30 consisting of videos, audio and photo slide shows, and an interactive conversation with Grace Bumbry as well international guests and local “opera aficianadi.” We encourage everyone to join us in the main lobby following the tribute for champagne and dessert and the rare opportunity to meet one of the greatest artists and civil rights trailblazers of the 20th century, Grace Bumbry.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019 6:00-9:00 pm
Tribute to Grace Bumbry, Legendary Prima Donna
Post-Salon champagne and dessert with Ms. Bumbry
Amazing Grace… Black Venus!
2019 VAS Icon of the Arts Award
Pompano Beach Cultural Center 50 West Atlantic Boulevard Pompano Beach, Florida 33060
VAS/JKV Members $35.00 General Public $50.00 Students (with ID) Complimentary
For Tickets Complete the Booking Information Below

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 10:00 am-12:00 noon
A Conversation with Grace Bumbry
(Brief Video Introduction highlighting Ms. Bumbry’s personal story and role in breaking race barriers with Interview/Discussion/Q&A)
Pompano Beach Cultural Center 50 West Atlantic Boulevard Pompano Beach, Florida 33030
VAS/JKV Members $35.00 General Public $50.00 Students (With ID) Complimentary
Please call 954-7447 or email

Mezzo-soprano/Soprano Grace Bumbry was known for her fiery passion and dramatic performances on the stage. With a career spanning over 60 years, Bumbry was part of the pioneering generation of Black opera singers that followed Marian Anderson, paving the road for later classical musicians and opera singers. With her mastery of the bel canto technique, Bumbry is one of the most successful singers who made the difficult transition from mezzo-soprano to high soprano. She has performed at such opera houses at Royal Opera House, La Scala, Met Opera, Basel Opera, and Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company among many (many, many, many) others. Bumbry even sang at LA Opera, performing the role of Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth in 1987. On Dec. 6, 2009, she was among those honored with the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors, for her many contributions to the performing arts.

Grace Bumbry is considered one of the foremost mezzo-sopranos of the opera world. She and several of her African American contemporaries, including Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo Shirley Verrett, and Reri Grist, are credited with following Marian Anderson, a pioneer in paving the way for African American women in opera. Born in St. Louis, Missouri to a railroad freight handler-manager and a housewife, Bumbry won a local radio singing competition, the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts, in 1954, for which the prize was a scholarship to a local music conservatory (St. Louis Institute of Music), a war bond and a trip to New York. However, because she was black, the school would not accept her. Instead she went to study at Boston University (Massachusetts), Northwestern University (Illinois), and the Music Academy of the West (California) where she worked with famed German soprano Lotte Lehmann. The New York Post declared Bumbry to have “a glorious voice of creamy quality,” adding that “without a doubt, she is born to sing.”

Grace Bumbry, among the world’s leading opera singers, has been a dedicated supporter of UNESCO. In her mission as Goodwill Ambassador, she has continuously emphasized the necessity of education and health care for disadvantaged youth. Her prominence and international fame has benefited UNESCO’s efforts to spread the message of tolerance.

Her status of being an advocate for human rights and equality was confirmed when she performed during the inaugural ceremony of Nelson Mandela, the first post-Apartheid president of South Africa in 1993. Grace Bumbry has extended her support to various peace campaigns such as the Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and has raised public awareness of UNESCO’s programme “Slave Route”.

Racial bias plays a CENTRAL ROLE IN HER SUCCESS, beginning with high school choir. There is an article written after Grace’s Bayreuth debut that said she changed a nations conversation on race. They were talking about Germany, and the fact that she’d debuted at WAGNERS house only 15 years after Hitler. See the following clip:

She was also denied entrance into the St. Louis Conservatory of Music because of the color of her skin, a fact that she didn’t let stop her.

Legendary Black soprano Marian Anderson did a PSA (public service announcement) when Grace was 15-years-old, announcing her first recital, and asking people to come out and hear her? It’s thrilling to hear. Using Marian Anderson’s legend and struggle, Toscanni’s “once every 100 years” praise, and her chosing to support Grace already at 14-years-old. Very important is this clip:

It is the VERY FIRST EVER Kennedy Center Honors, honoring WHO? Marian Anderson…. Grace sang Vissi d’arte for Marian’s tribute. She shared the stage that evening with Aretha Franklin who sang in tribute to Ms. Anderson “He’s got the whole world in his hands” with the Howard University Chorale. See the following clip:

Twenty two years later, in 2009 Grace is the honoree – celebrated by the first black president – fitting for a lady who trailblazed and conquered many firsts: First black to sing at Paris Opera, first to sing at Bayreuth, first “black opera singer” to sing at the white house (asked by Jacqueline Kennedy during Kennedy administration)!

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6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Pompano Beach Cultural Center
50 West Altantic Boulevard, Pompano Beach, Fl, 33060


Ticket Type Price Spaces
General Public $50.00
VAS/JKV Members $35.00