American opera singer Grace Bumbry was the first black woman to perform at Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions with soprano Martina Arroyo. She was also said to have the most classical female singing voice of her generation. Grace had a graceful voice with a wide range. She was able to make a very distinctive plangent tone. While she performed on stage she used to have fiery temperament and dramatic intensity. Grace gained people’s attention after she became Venus in Tannhäuser at Bayreuth in 1961.
Early Life of Grace Bumbry
Grace Bumbry was born on January 4, 1937, in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. Her sun sign was Capricorn and she used to celebrate her birthday on the 4th of Jan every year. Her full name was Grace Melzia Bumbry. She was the daughter of Benjamin Bumbry (father) and Melzia Bumbry (mother).
Her father was a railroad freight handler while her mother was a teacher. The name of her two brothers is Charles Bumbry and Benjamin Bumbry. She held American citizenship and followed Christianity as a religion. She belonged to Afro-American ethnic background.
Education of Grace Bumbry
Grace completed high school at Charles Sumner High School in Mississippi. Previously, she studied at Sumner High School in St. Louis. In 1995, she joined Boston University College of Fine Arts and later attended Northwestern University. Grace began studying music at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California.
Failed Marriage of Grace Bumbry
Grace was in a marital relationship with Erwin Jaeckel. The duo walked down the aisle in 1963. Erwin left his job to support Grace but their relationship began to have some problems and the duo divorced in 1972. She had an adopted son named David Lee Brewer.
Net Worth of Grace Bumbry
Grace had an estimated net worth of around $2 million at the time of her death. She collected that amount from her profession as an American opera singer. According to the source, an average salary of an American opera singer is around $86,207. She might have earned the same amount or more.
Grace Bumbry’s Death Cause
Grace took her last breath in this world on May 7, 2023, at a hospital in Vienna. She was on a flight from Vienna to New York when she started to have a stroke on October 20, 2022. Her health began to deteriorate after a month and she died at 86. Her adopted son and publicist confirmed her death.
Also, the Metropolitan Opera confirmed her death releasing a statement. Secretary of State for Culture Andrea Mayer (Greens) shared a tribute towards her saying:
“Grace Bumbry was an icon of operatic art and a pioneer for generations of opera singers after her. With her legendary debut in Bayreuth in the 1960s, she made a decisive contribution to equality in the opera business . It was an honor for the city and the country that a world star like her chose Vienna as her adopted home.”
Opera Singing Career of Grace Bumbry
- Grace was an American Opera singer.
- She was cast as a Venus in Tannhäuser at Bayreuth in 1961.
- She became the first black to make her debut in Tannhäuser and she got the title of Black Venus.
- Grace also made her Royal Opera House debut as a princess in 1963.
- She made her Covent Garden debut, La Scala debut, and Metropolitan Opera debut in 1963, 1964, and 1965 respectively.
- She performed as Verdi’s Lady Macbeth at the Vienna State Opera as a newcomer in 1964.
- Grace has performed in different places like in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades (2013) and in Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris (2010).
Grace has performed many songs in her singing career. Some of the names of Grace’s songs are Carmen: Habanera, Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila, Op.47, R. 288 / Act 2 – Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix, 21. Air: He Was Despised, Nei giardin del bello and so on.
Awards and Achievements
- Some of the awards Grace has received are the UNESCO Award, the Academy of Music of the West’s Outstanding Alumna Award, Italy’s Premio Giuseppe Verdi, and the French government’s Commandeur des Arts et Lettres.
- She also won a Grammy Award in 1972 for Best Opera Recording.
- Grace received the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors on December 6, 2009.
- Also, she was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
FAQs of Grace Bumbry
How Tall was Grace Bumbry?
Grace stood at the height of 5 feet 4 inches. She has an alluring pair of black eyes and beautiful curly brown hair.
Was Grace Bumbry an actress?
Aside from opera singing, she was also an actress. She was in the movies like The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Carmen (1969), and Aïda (1977).
What is Grace Bumbry founder of?
Grace is the founder of Grace Bumbry Black Musical Heritage Ensemble. It was found in the later 1990s.