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Leona Mitchell was born on this date in 1949. She is a Black vocalist.
Leona Mitchell is from Enid, Oklahoma, the daughter of Doctors Hulon and Pearl Mitchell. One of 15 children, Mitchell received early vocal training in the Antioch Baptist Church choir in her home town. Following high school she obtained her bachelor's degree in music in 1971 at the Oklahoma City University. She went on to graduate studies at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and received honorary doctorates from Oklahoma City University and the University of Oklahoma. She won the Kurt Herbert Adler Award of the San Francisco Opera, and in 1973, received the Opera America grant to Francisco Opera that same year as Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen.
She made her Metropolitan Opera Company debut in 1975 as Carmen. Additional roles include Pamina in Mozart’s "Die Zauberflote," Musetta in Puccini’s "LaBoheme," and Leonora in Verdi’s "Il Trovature." Mitchell gained international recognition when she was selected to sing Bess in the London Records complete recording of the George Gershwin classic, "Porgy and Bess" with the Cleveland Orchestra.
In addition to the Metropolitan and San Francisco Opera Companies, she has performed with the Geneva Opera, Paris Opera, New Israeli Opera, and Australian Opera. She recently recorded a Christmas album and was featured on a recording of Tobias Picker’s Symphony No. 2. Aussohnung. Mitchell is also an Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame inductee
In 1982 she was featured as herself in the film "Yes, Giorgio" and performed in Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (for TV). In 1986, she starred in "Liberty Weekend" (also for TV). In 1999, Mitchell gave ten performances of Puccini's "Turandot" with the Australian opera. In 2000, she performed a new production of "Don Carlo" in Melbourne, Australia, and was also heard in recital in Melbourne. She sang a concert of Puccini arias in Miami. Ms. Mitchell is planning an album of spirituals and several other projects.
Mitchell is known worldwide as one of the greatest sopranos to ever perform in opera houses. She is married to Elmer Bush, who taught in Los Angeles before becoming her personal manager. They have one son, Elmer Bush IV, and maintain a residence in Houston, Texas.