Harlem Opera Singer 1st African-American To Top U.K. Classical Charts

Noah Stewart (pictured) grew up in Harlem dreaming of the day he would take center stage at Carnegie Hall in his hometown of New York and The Royal Opera House in London.

noah stewart opera

And while most of his musically-inclined childhood friends emulated Beyonce and D’Angelo, Stewart looked up to the legendary Black-American soprano Leontyne Price. If you have not heard of her, you are not alone. Blacks are not mainstay in the classical music world. But that fact never deterred Steward from pursuing his dream of being a world-famous opera singer. While studying at LaGuardia High School, the Harlemite honed his opera skills and worked side gigs singing backup to Mariah Carey and Hootie and the Blowfish. Though those fancy job assignments did not earn the respect of his peers because his penchant for opera made him something of anomaly.

“My friends at LaGuardia made fun of me,” says Stewart. “They used to call me ‘opera boy,’ because I was obsessed with opera. Everyone around me wanted to become a pop singer.”  

With the help of a mentor, Steward attended The Julliard School in New York after graduating from LaGuardia. While there, he busted tables, worked retail and served as a receptionist at Carnegie Hall. Somehow, he thought working at that famed musical powerhouse would position him to be “discovered.”

It didn’t quite work out that way.

“That was the lowest point for me, because it felt like I was so close to music, but so far away,” he says. “I was learning a Russian piece and I was humming the melody, and my supervisor said, ‘Excuse me, Mr. Stewart? What is that noise? Were you just humming?’ I said yeah, and she said, ‘You can’t do that here. It’s very distracting. We can hear you all the way downstairs.’ And I just remember feeling like, ‘Wow. You can’t hum at the biggest musical institution in the world.’ “

His fortunes eventually turned for the better after attending a workshop for young artists at the San Francisco Opera three years ago. Stewart’s participation at the workshop lead to a steady stream of jobs that took him around the world, and eventually led to a contract withDecca Records. His album titled, “Noah,” topped the UK classical charts, the first for an Black artist!

via NewsOne.com

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