On June 25, opera soprano Angela Brown received the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from The Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA) for her impactful career and personal commitment to diversity in role models, performers, educators, and audiences in the arts. The presentation was a part of CAAPA’s 20th anniversary gala concert at Maryland’s Prince George Community College Center for the Arts that included Angela’s signature show, Opera…from a Sistah’s Point of View: Generation Next.
Angela’s dedication to diversifying opera audiences started over 20 years ago. As she was singing on the stages of the world, she says she noticed something about audiences: “I would see very few people who looked like me.” So, she created a solo show, Opera…from a Sistah’s Point of View, to unabashedly demonstrate the broad diversity displayed in opera. She wanted to help people see themselves in the characters and stories of opera.
Angela is known for her big personality and comedic timing, on and off the stage. Her witty retelling of opera plots from her perspective demystifies opera so people feel they belong in the audience and on the stage. She copyrighted the show title in 1997 and began offering it as an outreach when performing with opera companies, symphonies, and concert series. It caught on and was featured on CNN.
In 2015 she founded Morning Brown, Inc., a nonprofit initiative that bridges the gap between accessible music programs and historically excluded communities. Morning Brown acts as an umbrella for several programs including her expanded version of the show: Opera…from a Sistah’s Point of View: Generation Next. This version shines a light on emerging Black singers of all genres and has been presented by Cincinnati Opera, Opera Birmingham, Florida Grand Opera, Elon University, and CAAPA. She enjoys mentoring young artists and giving them a platform alongside her.
The Generation Next shows have featured young artists who are rising quickly including countertenor Key’mon Murrah, baritone Reginald Smith, Jr., soprano Alexandria Crichlow, bass-baritone Christian Simmons, and others. University music schools, conservatories, and resident artist programs of opera companies are her target. Angela aims to give promising Black artists performance opportunities in a show designed to celebrate their musical gifts, potential, and personalities.
CAAPA, a national organization that actively promotes opportunities for Black classical musicians through performances, education, and outreach, showcased Angela Brown‘s career and foundation Morning Brown, Inc., in a fitting tribute video as a part of the celebration.