Honoring the life of Leontyne Price

Honoring the life of Leontyne Price

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Leontyne Price was born and raised in Laurel, Mississippi.

"Like most singers, she started out playing the piano and singing in the church choir," said George Price, her brother.

Price said they knew early on that she had a special gift.

"Leontyne played the piano for the choir and all of that, and later on she grew a little older, she found out that she had a voice that she could sing," Price said.

Price said their hometown instilled the values she still clings to today.

"The greatest advantage any of us had in Laurel was we were never told we couldn't fulfill our dreams and aspirations," Price said.

He said their parents taught them at an early age to always go after their dreams and to never give up.

He said Leontyne knew she wanted to become a singer after hearing Marian Anderson sing at a recital in Jackson, Mississippi.

Price said that moment sparked the fire inside of her, and from that point on, she dedicated her life to singing opera.

One day while at her family home, a Chaplin from Camp Shelby stopped by to visit, and he heard her singing. Her voice was so good, that he offered her scholarship to Wilberforce University in Ohio.

"She said absolutely, so she left after graduating Oak Park High School and matriculated into Wilberforce University," Price said.

Price said that is when the public began to realize that Leontyne had a voice worth developing.

"They put her on the right course to do that as best she could," Price said.

As years went by, Leontyne began singing all over the world.

She performed at places like the San Francisco Opera House and New York City's Metropolitan.

As an African-American woman, she broke barriers during a time of segregation.

Price attributes her success to many of the life lesson she learned from her parents.

"That's what makes our country so great, you can achieve what you set out to, you just got to want it," Price said.