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Barbara Conrad - JPop.com
Artist info
Barbara Conrad

Barbara Conrad

Barbara Conrad


She grew up singing at home in the piney woods of rural East Texas. In 1957, as a sophomore voice student at The University of Texas at Austin, she won the lead role in the Purcell opera Dido and Aeneas. But she was African-American and her leading man was white. In one of the notable episodes in U.S. civil rights history, Barbara Smith was told by University administrators that she could not perform the role. The decision was personally devastating to her. Read more on Last.fm
She grew up singing at home in the piney woods of rural East Texas. In 1957, as a sophomore voice student at The University of Texas at Austin, she won the lead role in the Purcell opera Dido and Aeneas. But she was African-American and her leading man was white. In one of the notable episodes in U.S.

civil rights history, Barbara Smith was told by University administrators that she could not perform the role. The decision was personally devastating to her. The controversy reverberated throughout the campus community. Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, and Eleanor Roosevelt rallied to her support, but the decision remained final. Over the next 40 years Barbara Smith Conrad became one of the premiere mezzo-sopranos in the country.

She performed with both the Vienna State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera Company, each considered among the most distinguished opera companies in the world. She remained understandably estranged from The University of Texas for many of those years, until UT President Peter Flawn reached out to her in 1984 and brought her back into the UT family. That year, Conrad returned to Austin to debut in the premiere of Earl Stewart's opera Al-Inkishafi. The following year, the Texas Exes (Ex-Students' Association) honored her with a Distinguished Alumni award. In a 1998 interview with Texas Alcalde magazine, Barbara Smith Conrad shared her memories of bad times and good. Read more on Last.fm.

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