Feisty. Confident. Sensitive. No-nonsense. Electric.The descriptives Lucia Bradford assigns to her favorite operatic character, Carmen, could easily describe Ms. Bradford.
The Brooklyn native is a world-class mezzo-soprano who has performed with top philharmonic and symphony orchestras all over the world. And she’s a music teacher who brings her magic to the public schools, and in private practice, joyfully inspiring her students, mostly grades 9 through 12, to immerse themselves in music of all genres.
Tomorrow evening, June 9, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Ms. Bradford will perform with other opera stars and The Harlem Chamber Players in “Songfest II,” at Columbia University’s Miller Theater, 2960 Broadway, New York, NY 10027 www.harlemchamberplayers.orgAnd using a word she said of Carmen, you will be “intrigued” by her. Her love for music started at home, growing up in a house filled with music, and tutored by her Antiguan father, who has recorded seven music albums and currently pastors Exousia Cathedral in Brownsville, where gospel soloists, have parishioners on their feet.
She grew up loving Yolanda Adam’s artistry and declaring, early on, she would pursue a career as a singer. But her wise mother stepped in and said she would get a college degree first. Lucia attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia H.S. of Music & Performing Arts (1994-1998) and, following her mother’s “instructions”, she attended Westminster Choir College in New Jersey, acquiring bachelor’s and master’s degrees in, respectively, music education and music so she could have “something to fall back on.” In an interview with Our Time Press about tips for parents for sustaining their children’s interest in music arts, and inspiring children to learn music arts, Ms. Bradford informed that she never believed very young children should be getting voice lessons. Ms. Bradford, herself, never received lessons privately before her senior year in high school, although “she had wonderful coaches and choral teachers that taught me.”
Between her early formative-career years and now, Ms. Bradford has somehow filled a lifetime’s worth of star performances in her repertoire, including Carmen in La Tragedie de Carmen, The Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido, and Aeneas, Gertrude in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, Hippolyta in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Miss Todd in Menotti’s Old Maid and the Thief, the Duchess of Plaza Toro in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers and numerous of other roles.
She also was Azelia Dessalines in the historic return of William Grant Still’s opera Troubled Island with New York City Opera at the Schomburg Center, Maria in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and the Mother of Paul Dunbar in the premiere of The Mask in the Mirror by Richard Thompson.
Ms. Bradford has had the privilege of singing and touring in Russia and has performed with symphony and philharmonic orchestras in Moscow, Siberia, and Dubna. She’s toured in Spain, the Caribbean, and across the United States. And she brings all that talent back home to her students and her father’s church.
She told us her principal is unbelieving at the energy, the stamina, and the focus she puts into her “day” job and, then in her demanding stage performances. “He thinks it is a plus to have a music teacher who is actively involved in the classical music world.” She encourages parents to get involved with their principals to bring the arts into their children’s, yet, she says, “There are so many programs available, there’s no excuse for a kid to not have anything to do. Parents must take advantage of all the programs public schools offer.”Ms. Bradford also teaches part-time in midtown, grades 9 through 12, and offers private music lessons.
At school, she expands on their preferred music “norm’ by always bringing something new to their music or voice palate, blending in “different genres: jazz, gospel, classical, pop.” She told one reporter, that you can hone your voice skills and range by learning different genres. “Singing opera helps me remember that I can use my technique to hit notes and be healthy singing jazz and gospel. Singing jazz and gospel reminds me to be freer in my classical singing. “Freer means not just singing technically but also connecting to the character and/or the meaning of the piece. When I sing gospel there is a sense and a feeling of ‘home.’
“My goal is always to sing authentically and be stylistically correct.”
And as for voice lessons for the littlest ones, she says in so many words, the school chorus works fine, and you can always “take them to church and piano lessons are always good.”