In recital, Raehann Bryce-Davis expands the repertoire, brings beauty into the world
When Raehann Bryce-Davis was a teenager, she’d spend her free time browsing the stacks of the fine arts library at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her mother, Hortensia, had gone back to school to pursue a degree, and so Bryce-Davis had ample time to explore.
“You would just look at the old VHS [tapes] and grab one, and if it didn’t grab you in the first five minutes, you just put it back,” she recalled recently following a recital for the Tuesday Musical Club on December 21, 2021. Bryce-Davis found a love for “West Side Story,” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” which eventually led her deeper into the world of opera, which is where she’s making a name for herself today, from performing at Carnegie Hall, and La Scala, to her Metropolitan Opera debut, coming later this year.
Along the way, she’s expanding the repertoire through collaborations with composers like Paul Moravec, whose brand new set of songs, “Tell All The Truth,” was premiered in San Antonio at this same recital. Bryce-Davis also included a set of songs by Black American composers Margaret Bonds, Maria Thompson Corley, Florence Price, and B.E. Boykin.
I mentioned to her that during the recital, I was blown away not only by her voice, but by Bryce-Davis’s physical performance of Corley’s “I Am Not an Angry Black Woman.” As she sang, she leaned forward, as if throwing the words at the audience.
I am not an Angry Black Woman / I am an Olympic swimmer tethered to a submerged slave ship.Maria Thompson Corley
“Sometimes you have to go a little bit over the edge, because the edge is where that piece lives,” she explained.
“I always want to do my part to sing not just the great literature from Brahms and Strauss and Schumann, but also of my friends who are fantastic musicians, fantastic composers. And to use this operatic scope that I've gained in my traditional education to share the Black experience as well,” Bryce-Davis said.
To that end, one of Bryce-Davis’s pandemic projects was working on a video called “Brown Sounds,” created in conjunction with the L.A. Opera, and dancer Lateef Williams. (See it at the bottom of this story.)
“My next goal is to make classical music, opera, art song, all of these things completely thrilling to a younger, new audience.”
Use the audio player above to hear the full-length edition of “Performance Saturday” featuring Raehann Bryce-Davis and pianist Heeyoung Choi. Below, we’ve posted bonus holiday-themed audio from the show, which was performed just a few days before Christmas, 2021.