SHIRLEY, George Irving (1934- )
African-American operatic tenor and professor of music. The first African-American tenor to perform a leading role at The Metropolitan Opera.
ALS – Autograph Letter Signed, one page, 2001, on University of Michigan letterhead. Addressed to bookdealer/collector Gil Moody. Reads: Thank you for your kind letteer and for your continued interest in my work. I’m surprised you can still find enough of my recordings to promote! I trust the enclosed photographs will suffice for your needs; there are older ones available, but these tell the current story! Regarding stories, an author is presently hard at work in an attempt to chronicle my story thus far. It will take awhile…Again I thank you for your thoughtfulness; I trust that I shall have the pleasure some day of greeting you in person. Nota bene: letter is handwriting but signature slightly different. Thus the body of the letter may have been dictated and penned by a secretary. Difficult to say but nice content. Nice example of this phenomenally-gifted tenor-academic. Comes with a vintage black and white publicity still of Shirley from 1970 (his performance in The Magic Flute).
Shirley’s recording of Ferrando in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte garnered him a Grammy Award. He has three times been a master teacher in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Intern Program for Young NATS Teachers and taught for 10 years at the Aspen Music Festival and School.
Shirley has produced a series of programs for WQXR-FM Radio, New York on “Classical Music and the Afro-American” and hosted a four-hour program series on WETZ-FM Washington DC entitled “Unheard, Unsung.” In 2015 Mr. Shirley received the National Medal of Arts, bestowed upon him by President Barack Obama and, in 2016, he was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Opera Association at their annual convention.