An aspiring opera singer made his professional debut Sunday in Bethesda,Maryland, and now, the D.C. local is reflecting on his journey after being selected for the inaugural Cantate Young Artists of Color program.
Baritone Anthony D. Anderson's story is one full of both highs and lows, but he said he’s always felt led toward greatness.
“This is my calling. This is what I'm meant to do. I can feel it. I can feel it,” he said.
Along the way, Anderson recognized that there are not many people of color in opera. He believes this will change, in part with the help of the mentorship program he’s just joined.
The goal is “to really promote Black voices and people of color as they have been under the radar in terms of the classical world," he said.
Anderson recently returned to the D.C. area and performed at Bethesda Presbyterian Church as a homecoming of sorts. He’s a graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts in D.C.
The youngest of seven children, Anderson lost his father to gun violence when he was only 3 years old.
“Just this morning I kissed his photo and said, 'I'll see you later Pop,'" Anderson said. "I still think about him of course."
The local singer gained attention at a recital at his home church, St. Luke’s Episcopal, in the District in 2017. That same year, he was featured on the TODAY show.
At one point, Anderson found himself without money to pay for college. Through a single performance and a donation site, he was able to raise enough funds to pay off his college debt and continue pursuing his education.
“I want people to take optimism, joy, hope, love, gratitude, because that's exactly what I love to send out,” Anderson said.
Now he’s a senior at Oberlin Conservatory, practicing for graduate school auditions and thinking about how he can be a positive influence in the future. He is set to graduate in the spring of 2022.
“I want to use that position to change the classical world as it is today because it’s unforgiving. It's stuck in its old ways,” he said.
Anderson was accepted to prestigious schools such as The Julliard School and Johns Hopkins University's Peabody Institute.