- Feb 28, 2009
Robert Keith McFerrin Sr. (March 19, 1921 – November 24, 2006) was an American operatic baritone and the first African-American man to sing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. His voice was described by critic Albert Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times as "a baritone of beautiful quality, even in all registers, and with a top that partakes of something of a tenor's ringing brilliance." He was the father of Grammy Award-winning vocalist Robert McFerrin, Jr., better known as Bobby McFerrin.
.... on January 27, 1955..., McFerrin became the first black man to sing at the Metropolitan Opera. Rarely stated in the great publicity surrounding Marian Anderson's accomplishment is the fact that McFerrin was already engaged to make his debut when Anderson received her contract. With his Rigoletto in 1956 McFerrin became the first African-American in history to sing a title role at the Met. In addition, McFerrin was the first African-American to sing at both the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera. He achieved the same distinction with his Rigoletto in Naples at the San Carlo Opera in 1956..
....McFerrin went to California in 1958 to work on the Otto Preminger movie, Porgy and Bess. The casting plans for this production of theGeorge Gershwin opera slated Sidney Poitier as Porgy. Poitier was to act the role onscreen and lip-synch the musical numbers. McFerrin was engaged to provide Porgy's singing voice. The McFerrins settled in Hollywood that year so that McFerrin could begin working with Sidney Poitier.When the movie was released in 1959, the New York Times stated that, like Poitier's acting, McFerrin's singing was "as sensitive and strong as one could wish." The soundtrack was released as an LP.....