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Denyce Graves
Denyce Graves in Baltimore.jpg
Denyce Graves in Baltimore, Maryland, 2013
Born (1964-03-07) March 7, 1964 (age 57)
OccupationOpera singer (mezzo-soprano)
Years active1988-present

Denyce Graves (born March 7, 1964) is an American mezzo-soprano opera singer.

Early life

Graves was born on March 7, 1964, in Washington, D.C., to Charles Graves and Dorothy (Middleton) Graves-Kenner. She is the middle of three children and was raised by her mother on Galveston Street, S.W., in the Bellevue section of Washington.[1] She graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in 1981. Graves studied voice at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the New England Conservatory with Helen Hodam.[2] She worked at the Wolf Trap Opera Company, which provides further training and experience for young singers who are between their academic training and full-time professional careers. Soon after, she was invited by David Gockley to participate in the Houston Opera Studio, from 1988 to 1990, where she studied with Elena Nikolaidi.


She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1995[1] and has appeared at many opera houses. Though her repertoire is extensive, her signature parts are the title roles in Carmen and Samson et Dalila. Graves also made many appearances on the children's television series, "Between the Lions" where she used her talents to teach children sounds of words.[3] On January 20, 2005, she sang the patriotic song "American Anthem" during the 55th Presidential Inauguration, between the swearing-in ceremonies of Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush for their second terms in office.[4]

Graves sang "America the Beautiful" and "The Lord's Prayer" at the Washington National Cathedral during a memorial service for the victims of 9/11 on September 14, 2001, attended by President Bush, members of Congress, other politicians and representatives of foreign governments.[5]

In 2003, Graves performed in front of a live audience at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia for a television special, Denyce Graves: Breaking the Rules. In 2005, she hosted the radio show Voce di Donna (Voice of a Lady) on Vox!, the vocal classical music channel of XM Satellite Radio, on which she interviewed various opera singers. Graves often was heard on The Tony Kornheiser Show radio program with her rendition of the "Mailbag Theme".

In 2005, she sang the lead role in the world premiere of Margaret Garner, an opera by Richard Danielpour and Toni Morrison.[6]

Graves performing at the PBS National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C., 2009
Graves performing at the PBS National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C., 2009

In May 2010, Graves performed a concert with tenor Lawrence Brownlee in the United States Supreme Court Building for the Supreme Court justices.[7]

On June 15, 2013, Graves sang in the world premiere of Terence Blanchard's and Michael Cristofer's boxing opera, Champion with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

On September 25, 2020, Graves sang at the US Capitol as her friend Ruth Bader Ginsburg's casket was lying in state. Ginsburg was a devoted fan of opera.

Personal life

  • First husband (1990-2006) - David Perry (born 1950), a classical guitarist and operatic singer who also became her business partner.
    • Daughter Ella (born 2004)
  • Second husband (since September 2009) - Robert Montgomery, transplant surgeon.


In 2017, Graves was honored by The Washington Performing Arts with the Ambassador of the Arts Award.[8]

In 2019, Graves received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement presented by Awards Council member Dr. Ben Carson.[9]


  1. ^ a b Tommasini, Anthony (October 14, 1995). "Denyce Graves, From the Choir to Carmen". The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  2. ^ Denyce Graves.
  3. ^ "Between the Lions (TV Series 1999– ) - IMDb" – via
  4. ^ Baker, Peter; Fletcher, Michael A. (January 21, 2005). "Bush Pledges to Spread Freedom". The Washington Post. p. A1. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  5. ^ McCarthy, Ellen (September 14, 2009). "Third Wedding's a Charm for Denyce Graves". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  6. ^ Toni Morrison's first opera made its debut in Detroit, Detroit free Press, Mark Stryker, August 6, 2019
  7. ^ Barnes, Robert (May 17, 2010). "Opera-loving justices bring the music to the high court". The Washington Post.
  8. ^ "Denyce Graves Honored as Ambassador of Arts". The Washington Informer.
  9. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.

External links

This page was last edited on 16 September 2021, at 06:31
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