LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Leontyne Price is known for rising to international fame as one of the leading opera singers of the 1950s and 60s. George Bassi, Director of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, describes Price as an accomplished woman dressed in awards.
“Probably the most important opera singer that there was, and it’s kind of interesting. Her career took off at a time when television really started," said Bassi.
With a powerful voice, Price became the first African American to sing a lead role at the Metropolitan Opera.
“She was on the cover of magazines 22 times. She has 19 Grammy Awards. She has been given 20 honorary doctorate degrees,” said Bassi.
Inside the museum, Price is highlighted through her children’s book, performances and lavish costume designs. Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee said Price is honored throughout Jones County.
“It says a lot about the City of laurel, and it says more about Leontyne Price,” said Magee. “It’s special, not only in law, not only Mississippi, not only the United States, but worldwide.”
Bassi said he wants people to understand what all Price accomplished during her opera career.
“Also how much she loved Laurel. She still to this day talks about Laurel with fond memories and really has been pleased that we were able to do this exhibition,” said Bassi.
Price graduated from Oak Park Vocational High School in 1944. In 2018, students are still inspired by singers like Llettesha Sylvester, with sweet notes, just like Leontyne Price’s.
“I was able to walk through the exhibit, and I had goosebumps everywhere,” said Sylvester. “So Ms. Price is one of the sopranos that I look to for every single one of the songs that I’m about to sing.”
Whether it’s celebrating Price inside her exhibit, seeing a display of farewell, or hearing her voice, it all started with a "high c.”
To learn more about Price’s life, you can visit her exhibit that sits inside of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel until April 28.