Happy Birthday, Leontyne Price!

Today in BlackHERstory, a SHEro was born in Laurel, MS.  Her name is Leontyne Price.

A Trailblazer in BlackHERStory

leontyne price

Photo from The Fabulous Birthday Blog

I came across several posts about Leontyne Price today while strolling through social media.  I have not studied her story in depth, but I wanted to share a few things that stood out from what I learned today.  Much of what follows is in response to the interview by Susan Taylor for Essence Magazine linked here.

  1. She made 92 today!  Happy Birthday to you from Celebrate Sisters!
  2. She’s a native of Mississippi – my second home state.
  3. She blazed the trail for black opera singers as the first African-American to become a prima donna at the Metropolitan Opera (1).
  4. She received 13 Grammy awards and was nominated for 25 (2).
  5. This woman has enough confidence to go around!  Not only can she hold her own, she shows us how to love the skin we’re in.  It goes way beyond her external beauty – she loves herself and it manifests as boldness.  Sometimes as women, our confidence can be viewed as a negative trait.  Leontyne Price has graced all stages and ages with courage and the confidence of a SHEro!
  6. Here’s what she had to say about success (starting at 3:11 in the video interview.)   “Success is a luxury. Success is what you’ve done.. you aspire to. Of course it means certain things if you are successful. To certain people it means a fur coat, jewelry, cars, all the creature comforts. I have those. But aside from that, it means I can do as I please. I call the shots. I think success means YOU call the shots.”  I can totally get with this definition of success.  This also means that success isn’t calculated by a title or financial status – but instead by the ability to have choices.
  7. In her interview with Susan Taylor she talks about being yourself – which is courageous. “You cannot make a willow out of an oak.”  Basically, you can only be who you are!  The take away here is a reminder to stay in my lane, and also to bring all of me to every space I’m in.  I can only be me.
  8. She “retired” in 1985, but she doesn’t like to use that word.  Her reference to a mathematical expression is worth a graphic. (Plus, I love math.) Ms. Price left the opera, “on the crest of a wave” (Fig. 1).  I attended a lecture by President Michael Sorrell at Tulane a few weeks ago, and he said it this way, “Leave places better than you found them.”  When you do exit a space, leave it better as you step into your next era! Since I mentioned it, check out our selfie with President Michael Sorrell (“Prez”) and a few students from my honors program.

crest of wave

Figure 1.  Electromagnetic wave (Image from Universität Wien)

IMG-3345

President Michael Sorrell (Paul Quinn College) took a selfie with us after his lecture at Tulane.

9. Her final comments in the interview reminded me why I am so passionate about mentorship.  After leaving the opera at the peak of her success, she wanted to help mold someone else who aspired to be an opera singer.  As she states, “A little bit of me will always be around.”  That’s what you call making an impact and leaving your mark!  I want others to be able to go farther and higher than me by standing on my shoulders and learning from my journey.

Today we Celebrate Leontyne Price. #GirlBoss

With Joy and Gratitude,

Ja’Wanda

References

  1. Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History
  2. Grammy.com.

#BlackHERSTory #LeontynePrice #SHEro #BlackHistory #BlackHistoryMonth #CelebrateSHEros #CelebrateSisters

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