This Day in Black History: Jan. 4, 1937

Mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry was born.

Posted: 01/04/2013 08:30 AM EST

(Photo: Erich Auerbach/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Some call her Amazing Grace in recognition of her undeniably amazing voice. Mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry, born on Jan. 4, 1937, established herself as a great talent while still a teenager. The St. Louis native reportedly brought out Arthur Godfrey, host of the television program Talent Scouts, when she performed Verdi's "O don fatale."

Bumbry, he predicted, "will be one of the most famous names in music one day."

After attending Boston University, Northwestern and the Music Academy of the West, Bumbry auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera in 1958 and shared a first-place win. She went on to debut at all of the major houses and has performed major roles, from Lady Macbeth to Carmen. In 2009, she received a Kennedy Center Honor.

Now in her 70s, Bumbry spends her time mentoring promising talent.

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