Remembering Sissieretta Jones during African American Music Appreciation month

Posted on: June 27, 2022

“President Joe Biden’s proclamation on May 31, 2022 [affirmed] June as African American Music Appreciation month,” writes Rosalyn Story in Saturday’s (6/24) Dallas Morning News. “Even before the end of slavery, there were Black artists who … aligned their talents with the music of Mozart and Verdi—hearing it, studying it, mastering it…. The best example: Black American soprano Sissieretta Jones, born late enough to avoid slavery, but too soon to explore her real dream, to sing in opera. White opera companies would deny her access to the end of her days…. On June 15, 1892, … the 23-year-old daughter of a formerly enslaved man sang her first performance at New York’s … Carnegie Hall…. Jones longed to sing opera and created a way … [of touring] successfully for several years…. Now … Jones is finally getting her due…. Black Music Appreciation Month. Black History Month. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Juneteenth…. I often ask the rhetorical question, ‘Do we really need these holidays?’… I tell [my students] if we don’t know the history of the Black American, then we do not know the full story of America.” Rosalyn Story’s article about Black conductors appears in the Summer 2022 issue of Symphony magazine.