The Kennedy Center


2017 Marian Anderson Vocal Award Winner: John Holiday in Recital

Thursday, February 15, 2018 7:30 PM

Washington National Opera

This year's winner, gifted counter-tenor John Holiday, has been hailed by the New York Times as "an exceptional singer with a strong voice, even in its highest range."

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John Holiday in Recital
2017 Marian Anderson Vocal Award winner

Named for the groundbreaking African American contralto, the Marian Anderson Vocal Award recognizes a young American singer in opera, oratorio, or recital repertory with outstanding promise for a significant career. Given annually by the Kennedy Center, the award offers a cash prize, a residency at Washington's Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and a recital co-presented by WNO and the Kennedy Center's Fortas Chamber Music Concerts. This year's winner, gifted countertenor John Holiday, has been hailed by the New York Times as "an exceptional singer with a strong voice, even in its highest range." Prior recipients include Denyce Graves, Eric Owens, Lawrence Brownlee, Janai Brugger, and many others.

A Note from John About Winning the Award and His Concert Program

I can still remember receiving the notification about being named the 2017 recipient of the Marian Anderson Vocal Award. You cannot imagine how overwhelmed I was. In previous years, I eagerly watched, with awe-struck eyes, other singers receiving the award, hoping and praying that I would one day be able to join their ranks. I am blessed to be able to call many of them my friends.

Fast forward to today: I am fervently preparing a recital on which I am doing music that I love - the music of Poulenc, Hahn, Bonds, and more in hopes that, even if for a brief moment, I can bring some beauty into the world with my artistry. There is no artist that does this alone, and I’m blessed beyond measure to get to share the stage with two of my closest friends and collaborative partners, Kevin J. Miller and Neeki Bey.

Before the recital, I am excited to get to work with the wonderful students of The Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where I will be presenting a Masterclass on February 13th. I believe that it is important for one to lift others up as they climb up, so I am eagerly looking forward to sharing and spending time with these bright-eyed students. When I look out into my recital audience on February 15th, I look forward to seeing the light in your eyes, and I hope that you can see mine… and that you can feel the gratitude for all of your love, support, and encouragement throughout the years.

Even as I write this, I’m a big bundle of tears, so I’ll need a whole box of kleenex to make it through the recital. This little kid from Rosenberg, Texas, could have never imagined this yellow brick road of blessings. Marian Anderson opened so many doors for me and countless other African American artists - allowing us to stand boldly in our art. I hope that, in some small way, I am able to do the same thing she has done for me for this next generation of artists and educators. “If I can help somebody as I travel along, then my living shall not be in vain."