Born: February 15, 1926 (Winston-Salem, NC)
Died: March 11, 2022 (Chapel Hill, NC)
Martha Flowers, soprano, a native of Winston-Salem, NC, graduated from Fisk University and continued her musical studies at the Juilliard School of Music where alongside Leontyne Price, they studied under Florence Page Kimball. At Juilliard she was discovered by the director Robert Breen who hired her to sing the role of Bess beginning her career as an opera singer in the 1950s and 1960s. She toured with the international touring company of Porgy and Bess performing in 29 countries on four continents to critical acclaim. She was most proud of her Moscow performance where she received 30 standing ovation curtain calls.
She also sung Bach, Mozart and Handel to standing ovations in Norway, Belgium, Germany and Russia and was invited to tour with the New Zealand Opera.
In 1954, she won the prestigious Naumburg Award.
In 1973, after stepping away from international touring, Ms. Flowers settled in Chapel Hill, NC where she was the first Black faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she taught voice, diction and Afro-American music. Currently the music department is honoring her work and legacy by launching the Martha Flowers Opera Institute.
Her friend, the poet Maya Angelou said, "Martha's voice reminded her of hot, silver, melted."
1954 Naumburg Competition