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William Warfield - JPop.com
Artist info
William Warfield

William Warfield

William Warfield


William Caesar Warfield (22 January 1920 - 26 August 2002), concert baritone singer, was born in West Helena, Arkansas and grew up in Rochester, New York, where his father was called to serve as pastor of Mt. Vernon Church. He gave his recital debut in New York's Town Hall on March 19, 1950. He was quickly invited by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to tour that continent for 35 concerts. In 1952, Warfield performed in Porgy and Bess during a tour of Europe sponsored by the U. Read more on Last.fm
William Caesar Warfield (22 January 1920 - 26 August 2002), concert baritone singer, was born in West Helena, Arkansas and grew up in Rochester, New York, where his father was called to serve as pastor of Mt. Vernon Church. He gave his recital debut in New York's Town Hall on March 19, 1950. He was quickly invited by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to tour that continent for 35 concerts.

In 1952, Warfield performed in Porgy and Bess during a tour of Europe sponsored by the U.S. State Department (he made six separate tours for the US Department of State, more than any other American solo artist.) In this production he played opposite the opera star Leontyne Price, whom he soon married, but the demands of two separate careers left them little time together. They divorced in 1972, but were featured together in a 1963 studio recording of excerpts from Porgy and Bess. Warfield was a graduate of the Eastman School of Music. In 1975 he accepted an appointment as Professor of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He later became Chairman of the Voice Department. He sang the premiere performances of the version for soloist and orchestra of Set I of Aaron Copland's Old American Songs in 1955, and of the version for soloist and piano of Set II of the collection in 1958. (He also recorded both sets of the songs.) His vocal talents were also featured on two recordings of Handel's "Messiah" - a classic, but heavily cut, performance performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Eugene Ormandy (released in 1959), and a lesser-known, drastically restructured recording made in 1956, also heavily cut, with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. Bernstein combined the Christmas and Resurrection sections, and ended with the arias and choruses depicting the death of Christ. The Ormandy recording featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Bernstein's the Westminster Choir. Warfield was also accomplished in acting and poetry recitation.

He played the character De Lawd in a celebrated Hallmark Hall of Fame television production of The Green Pastures, a role he played twice (these were the days of live TV, before video tape). He appeared in two Hollywood films, including a star-making performance as Joe in MGM's 1951 Technicolor remake of Show Boat. His other film was an overlooked item called "Old Explorers", starring James Whitmore and José Ferrer. In a nod to "Show Boat", Warfield played a cameo role as a tugboat captain.

Footage of Warfield in "Show Boat" has been seen in several TV shows and/or films, notably That's Entertainment!. Warfield played his Show Boat role in two other productions of the musical - the 1966 Lincoln Center production, and a 1972 production in Vienna. And he was heard singing Ol' Man River in three different recordings of the show - the 1951 motion picture soundtrack album, a 1962 studio recording featuring Barbara Cook and John Raitt, and the recording made from the Lincoln Center production. Warfield made an appearance on The Colgate Comedy Hour and on a program called TV Recital Hall in 1951, the same year that he made his screen debut in Show Boat. He later appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1955.

In 1961, he appeared as a recital soloist on an episode of the Young People's Concerts, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. In March 1984 he was the winner of a Grammy in the "Spoken Word" category for his outstanding narration of Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait accompanied by the Eastman Philharmonia Orchestra. And in the 1990's, he narrated a special jazz arrangement of music from "Show Boat", on the NPR program Riverwalk. [edit] Vocal decline Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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