Overview

Growing up African American in segregated Arkansas in the 1950s, Barbara Hendricks witnessed firsthand the painful struggle for civil rights. After graduation from the Juilliard School of Music, Hendricks immediately won a number of important international prizes, and began performing in recitals and operas throughout the world. A Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, she is as devoted to humanitarian work as she is to her music. Always the anti-diva, Hendricks is a ...

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Lifting My Voice: A Memoir

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Overview

Growing up African American in segregated Arkansas in the 1950s, Barbara Hendricks witnessed firsthand the painful struggle for civil rights. After graduation from the Juilliard School of Music, Hendricks immediately won a number of important international prizes, and began performing in recitals and operas throughout the world. A Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, she is as devoted to humanitarian work as she is to her music. Always the anti-diva, Hendricks is a down-to-earth and straightforward woman, whether singing Mozart or black spirituals. She challenges stereotypes and puts the music first and presents a warm, engaging, and honest self-portrait of one of the great women of music.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"When the lyric soprano Barbara Hendricks sings, the first word that comes to mind is not powerful but beautiful."  —New York Times

“A diva’s memoir probably wouldn’t have a foreword by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Not only are Hendricks’s life and stories about the many famous people she has known interesting, but her view of world events for the past 50 years is compelling.” —Omaha World-Herald
“She has some remarkable stories to recount.” —New Jersey Star Ledger

"Barbara Hendricks is a voice, in both senses of the word. For her, artistic and humanitarian engagement are tightly linked. . . . She is completely possessed by her art."  —L'Express

“I remember with the greatest of pleasures every occasion Barbara has made music with me, whether in New York, Israel or the, now legendary, performances of Turandot in the Forbidden City in Beijing with the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Always a delight to work with and with the combination of her most beautiful voice and her stunning musicianship I feel very honored to be counted as one of her colleagues.”  —Zubin Mehta

“Barbara Hendricks is an artist who has made a difference. She has brought to her art a voice naturally endowed with a shimmering sweet timbre that, coupled with a fine instinct for phrasing and opera character portrayal, has put her in a category all her own. Her devotion and contribution to humanitarian causes is without parallel. I salute Barbara, her work, and her life.”  —Lorin Maazel

“Articulate, resourceful, kind and compassionate.These words come to mind before I even start to think of Barbara Hendricks’ musical talent. In my mind's eye, I see the Barbara smile, the wink of acknowledgment of her fellow traveler, and always the serious, purposeful dedication to the work at hand. Barbara's glowing presence, both on stage and off, is remarkable.She has nothing to prove, and in that confidence she creates space for those around her—family, friends, and the public—and generously shares the accumulated wisdom and values that have been practiced over a lifetime. That is the presence I hear in the luminous voice of this extraordinary artist. And she keeps looking for that light.”  —Yo-Yo Ma

“She has lifted her voice in song on the most prestigious stages of the world, in the Cathedral of Dubrovnik under siege, and she lifts her voice in indignation against injustice and in defence of human rights. Her life has been fueled by an insatiable curiosity, a search for truth and a willingness to serve. Through her work, Barbara has become a symbol of hope for millions.”  —Kofi A. Annan, from his foreword

"Fans of opera and vocal music will enjoy this absorbing narrative, as will anyone who likes to read about strong and accomplished women." —Library Journal

"In this memorable memoir...The story of her journey from Arkansas pastor's daughter to international opera star is inspriring and important." —Booklist

“Ms. Hendricks is direct and personal, an unfussy storyteller who recounts setbacks as well as triumphs. She is generous with anecdotes and detail… but the meat of these memoirs is the authors' exploration of the process of self-discovery as they use their considerable gifts to make their way in a challenging profession.” —Wall Street Journal

Lifting My Voice is no simple-minded “Diva-Speak”- it’s a serious, thoughtful, and deeply insightful book on the meaning of being an artist and a morally conscious global citizen. [It’s] a noble undertaking and a totally absorbing read. Highly recommended.” —La Scena Musicale

Library Journal
05/01/2014
In this compelling autobiography, Hendricks recounts her journey from Stephens, AR, to opera stages all over the world. Born in 1948 in the South just before the advent of the civil rights movement, the author sang in the church where her father was a pastor and over the years her repertoire would grow to include opera, art songs, spirituals and jazz. One of the greatest influences on her singing was the mezzo-soprano Jennie Tourel, who taught her at both the Aspen Festival of Music and the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Hendricks has also worked with a number of noted conductors, among them James Levine, Georg Solti, and Leonard Bernstein. In the last four decades she has performed with renowned orchestras across the globe and sold 14 million albums. In 2005, she started her own record label, Ate Verum. This leading lyric soprano is also an astute observer of life around her and sets her own story in the context of historical events. Describing herself as a citizen of the world (she has lived in Europe since 1977), Hendricks is also a humanitarian, worked for the United Nations Committee for Refugees for 20 years, and is now its honorary Goodwill Ambassador. In 1998, she established the Barbara Hendricks Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation. VERDICT Fans of opera and vocal music will enjoy this absorbing narrative, as will anyone who likes to read about strong and accomplished women.—Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago
Kirkus Reviews
2014-05-06
An African-American opera star recalls her distinguished career.Hendricks grew up in the segregated South of the 1950s and '60s singing in church and school choirs with no particular desire to make a career in music, which she deemed "extracurricular." Instead, she studied math and science until a chance invitation to compete in auditions for the Metropolitan Opera permanently changed her life. She did not win, but the experience threw open doors to possibilities that eventually landed her a spot at Julliard. There, she worked with mezzo-soprano Jennie Tourel, who became her mentor and role model, and received instruction from the legendary Maria Callas. Hendricks began her extraordinary career as a performer and recording artist soon after leaving Julliard in 1974. Within three years of graduation, she had sung with every major orchestra and conductor in the United States and at major festivals and opera houses all over Europe, which became her permanent home in 1977. Twenty years into a career that included work on film versions of operas like Puccini's La bohème, Hendricks added to her vocal repertoire by learning how to sing jazz songs, which she debuted at Montreux Jazz Festival in 1994. Sensitive to human rights issues from an early age, Hendricks became involved with the United Nations and used her musical talents to call attention to social and political conflicts around the world, including the Bosnian war. By the late 1990s, she also created her own award-winning humanitarian organization dedicated to fostering peace and reconciliation. Hendricks' accomplishments and sincerity are genuinely laudable. However, her painstaking efforts to record every small detail of her career and life and point out the relationship those details have to a greater historical process are too excessive to make the narrative genuinely enjoyable.Operatically overdone.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781613748558
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/1/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 476,681
  • File size: 7 MB

Meet the Author

Barbara Hendricks is an operatic soprano and concert singer. She has sold more than 14 million copies of more than 80 records, and has appeared in major opera houses throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. She was named Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1987 and founded the Barbara Hendricks Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation in 1998. Kofi A. Annan served as Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. He is the author of Interventions: A Life in War and Peace.

Barbara Hendricks is an operatic soprano and concert singer. She has sold more than 14 million copies of more than 80 records, and has appeared in major opera houses throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. She was named Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1987 and founded the Barbara Hendricks Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation in 1998. Kofi A. Annan served as Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. He is the author of Interventions: A Life in War and Peace.

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