by Nadya Scott

by Nadya Scott
submitted May 29, 2014

The upcoming Princeton (NJ) Opera Festival’s June presentation of George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” will feature globetrotting wunderkind and Oakwood alumna Miss Brandie Sutton, performing as “Clara.”

Sutton will begin month-long Porgy and Bess rehearsals on Friday, May 23rd, and the performances will start at the end of June.
A Huntsville, Alabama native and 2005 Oakwood graduate with a bachelor’s in music/voice concentration, Sutton returned in early May to her alma mater for her “Clara-prep” with Dr. Julie Moore Foster, her vocal coach since 2002.  “Brandi’s breathtaking vocals, coupled with her intense training and teachable spirit, have led her to secure multiple main role performances since her graduation,” remarked Foster, an Oakwood University vocal pedagogy assistant professor.
Sutton performed recently at:

  • The annual New Year’s Eve Concert in Copenhagen, Denmark, with the Royal Danish Symphony Orchestra;
  • A 10-day tour in Russia in March 2014, with the Opera Noire of New York; and
  • Solo recitals at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and at the Lincoln Center’s Merkin Concert Hall in New York City.

She has also had several performances at The Catholic University of America’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, where she obtained her master’s degree in vocal performance.  
Sutton prepares for a performance by first studying and picking apart the music for the performance. “If the piece is in a foreign language – such as my performance as Cleopatra in Handel’s “Giulio Cesare” – I will first translate the piece, to make sure I fully understand what I’m singing!” she explained with a chuckle, pianissimo. Then for fine-tuning, she attends voice-training sessions with her vocal coach. Right before her performance, however, Sutton makes sure to pray and spend time with God before going on-stage.
Brandie praises God for her upcoming performance as Clara in “Porgy and Bess.” She says, “A lot of Black opera singers do ‘Porgy and Bess,’ and get pigeonholed or typecast in the role; but I’m grateful and glad to have this opportunity.”
Sutton confides that she won the role for Clara after rushing to audition for it during a lunch break from a rehearsal in preparation for a three-week, 15-city tour with The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, led by trumpet legend Wynton Marsalis!