DeAnna Tisdale: The next Leontyne Price? or MORE?

By Artaymis Maat

Jackson Advocate Contributing Writer

DeAnna Esther Marie Tisdale- “I was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. I went to Adhiambo Elementary School, Blackburn Middle School, Murrah High and Tougaloo College. I always sang in church. I fell in love with it. You apply on line. You send in a recording of your voice. If they like it, they ask you to come for a live audition. From there you get accepted or you do not.

“The conservatory is in Boston.  I had to audition for the program.  I had a really good feeling about the audition. I started with one piece and they asked for another. My dad would be proud of me. He is steering things up there because he gives me little signs that he’s still looking out for me and supporting me.  My mom said a sign from my dad was seeing the light coming through the sanctuary and shining on me. Mom is like my rock. She is always there to support me. Whenever I feel like I can’t make it she blows the wind beneath my wings. She really keeps me going.

“My words of wisdom is whenever you feel like you can’t go on…keep going.  Do what your passion is. As far as singing there is so much that you have to put into it to get one product. You can’t make it off talent alone. There is much more to it and many more obstacles along the way, but you have to have drive, talent, preparation and you will meet opportunity.”

What do we know about OPERA! Some say it’s seducing you to believe in the magical essence of life and dreams. Ladybird DeAnna Tisdale did just that. She glows with warmth, happiness, humbleness, glory and heavenly joy. She attributes those focal points to appreciating what life has to offer, pursuing dreams and giving with all thine heart. She seems to know something inwardly that provokes those peppery chuckles that envelop into a contagious smile. Perhaps it’s her pact with her beloved Dear Ol’ Dad that shines upon her and nods ‘yes’ to her dreams.

She is blessed with the keys of life by birthright. DeAnna sighs somewhat with a smile. She colored her songs with multi colors of sunshine. You could see the sun shining brightly nodding YES! all the way. She was as smooth as the best cognac and made us believe in her dream. We tasted her flirtatious passion and floated to the land of incredible-awesomeness.  We heard an angel sing. Come swiftly on the wing.

Many have asked “What is a conservatory? Where is DeAnna going? What will she be doing? The Boston Conservatory was founded in 1867 by Julius Eichberg to serve as both a professional training academy and community music school. Eichberg, a gifted violinist and composer, brought with him the spirit and musical practices flourishing in the great conservatories of Brussels, Paris, Prague, London, and Vienna—but with a difference. From the very start, the Conservatory broke new ground by opening its doors to women and African Americans, people with few professional opportunities in classical music at the time.

The Conservatory is also credited with several other important “firsts.” After merging with the National Associated Studios of Music at the start of the 20th century, The Boston Conservatory expanded its offerings in several innovative ways. The Conservatory incorporated dance and theater training into its curriculum, created the first “grand opera” department in the United States, and developed the first professional training program in dance to offer equal emphasis on European classical ballet and the uniquely American forms of modern dance. Today, The Boston Conservatory is an independent private college with fully accredited programs in music, dance, and theater.

Listen to what they’re saying about DeAnna:

Mary Sutton: “Her parents have been superior in their support of my charity for helping boys.  It is located in the Jackson Medical Mall.  I have known DeAnna since grade six or seven. I really appreciate her. She has grown so much. Listen, I predict she will be the next Mary Violet Leontyne Price. Leontyne was also raised in Mississippi.  Price received a scholarship to attend Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio. She began as a music education major, but she completed her studies there in voice. With the assistance of Paul Robeson and the school’s administration, in addition to the financial backing of the Chisholm family. DeAnna chose to be persistent in her passion. It will never be too far for me to travel and hear a voice like that. American Idol wouldn’t do her any justice. She’s far beyond that.”

Juanita Sims-Doty:  “DeAnna’s range is incredible! It sounds like she could be a  soprano and an alto.  I’ve seen her grow up and I’ve seen her perform at Tougaloo. She was excellent then. Now she is awesome.  I’m so happy that I’ve come today. So much so, I changed one of my meetings to see her and it was well worth it! I was thinking about her father. He would be so proud.”

Kenneth I.  Stokes-Supervisor, District 5:  “The recital was beautiful and I could see Mr. Charles Tisdale all over this church smiling from heaven. The best treat is the fact that DeAnna is coming right out of Jackson, Mississippi.  Let’s really think about it. We’re taking things for granted.  If a person is playing professional football, basketball, we talk about that, but DeAnna is a true professional on a totally different level. It’s been a long time since we’ve had someone of this magnitude at this level dealing with opera and this kind of singing. It’s a special gift. What makes it even more special is this person is down to earth, humble and doesn’t forget where she comes from.”

LaRita Cooper- Stokes-City Council Ward 3: “DeAnna’s  voice is impeccable. She has opened my eyes to a whole new avenue of life. She is doing a wonderful job and can only get better.  I can see bright things in her future to the highest degree. Thank God for her, her mother, her whole family and The Jackson Advocate. ”

Pastor Barron Banks: “I’m here to support DeAnna because my son Joseph Banks also finished at USM in a recital seven years ago. So I’m musically inclined also. We need to show her generation and her peers that the genre of music can be all over. It’s unlimited.  I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

Alberta Robinson: “I’m a friend of Mrs. Tisdale. This was fantastic!  When she opened her mouth and started singing, I said, ‘Oh my God! Awesome!’ I got a chance to talk to her instructor.  It’s just a miracle.  I think DeAnna is ready for anything.  With God on her side she can handle anything. No problem.”

Leonard Butler:  “ I really enjoyed it. I really did! I would love to get a CD or something so I can listen to it all day. Now, I can listen to opera all day.  It’s relaxing, uh huh.  I really believe if she stays with  it… she’ll make it.”

Maryann Kyle: “I have witnessed her growth as her voice teacher over the last two years. I have witnessed an incredible voice! She came to me with a beautiful voice.  She has turned from a singer to an artist. She has come to believe in what she is doing and she really communicates. She isn’t worried with just being a singer but communicates truth and beauty with her spirit.  She’s got the talent and will go as far as she believes she can. She just needs to keep working and moving forward.”

Barbara Fortenberry (pianist): “I freelance at USM and play for other students that are doing recitals.  I’ve been playing for her recitals for awhile and I know that she will do extremely well in Boston. I really do. I don’t know much about the conservatory but I know it’s really good.  She auditioned and they were really impressed with her. They were very much interested in her being a student there. She has an absolutely gorgeous instrument. She’s well prepared for whatever the case may be.”

Denise Reese: “I was invited by my aunt. I thought it was very nice. I’m glad to see that more women of color are getting into it. When you think of opera, you don’t think of women of color, so I’m glad she got into it. She stepped out on faith and look at her now.”

Juanita Steward Brown: “I’ve known DeAnna since she was born. I’ve known her mom and dad just that long. The last song she sung in the second recital brought tears to my eyes. Today I heard all of the training.  I heard a different person. She has come into her own. She is absolutely great. I see great things for DeAnna. She has the personality.  She is humble and will be able to work with whomever. She’s above American Idol.  I see her working on the same level that Leontyne retired on. If they heard the voice that we heard today it’s no wonder that they would want to work with her.”

Alice Tisdale:  “I tried not to cry but it was hard. I was trying to represent and not make a big scene. I’m glad that she stuck to her dreams. I wanted her to go into education… but she is educating people… because not enough people know about opera and music. It’s the oldest form of music. She’s compelled to sing. She always was. She followed her heart and I’m supporting her 150%.  She is educating people about the music and also about following your dreams. She is going to study further this summer in New York. Then she is going to the conservatory.

“It is very fortunate and a blessing for her to be on the East Coast where there will be a lot of people interested in classical and opera music. She will be able to network with them and they will embrace each other.  Here we can appreciate the music because we really know her. By going away will give her a chance to explore just how good she really is. Yes it will be competitive. If she sticks to it, takes the encouragement that we are all giving her and follows God, she will be our next Leontyne Price. I always cry when I hear her sing and perform because she sings with such passion.  I feel it in my heart and it just radiates to think that she came from God, me and Mr. Tisdale. I’m glad that she is the way she is. She is a wonderful spirit. Her father was with us the whole time. When I saw the sun shining through the windows, I knew it was him, or the angels peeping in and spotting him on the back row.

Clotie Graves: “I helped raise that child! I am so proud. We went to church together. Alice would send her on trips with me on the bus. I loved the last song. There was so much energy in it. I saw the voice control. Her smile will put her over the top and the fact she is coming from the South.”

Linda Walker: “ I am amazed at the progress that DeAnna has made. We look for such great things from her. The conservatory will be her bridge over. When you have quality of voice any song suits you.”

Jordan Walker-(Age 15): “It was incredible!  It was exciting!  I loved the second song. It sounded like she was going to break a glass!”

Alice Lewis:  “I loved it. I thought she had magnificent voice quality. Her expressions were executed wonderfully. I didn’t know that she had that kind of range. This was a big change over the last performance that I saw. I thought she was outstanding then. I got my autograph already. I’m looking forward to seeing her name in big lights already!”

Bobby McGallan (bus driver): “I found out about  DeAnna’s recital through Supervisor Stokes.  The sky is the limit for her. The performance was unbelievable.”

Anne Sulton (Auntie): “Deanna is my niece and I am Alice’s sister. DeAnna and I have had some special moments. I took her once with me to fly with some black female pilots. I made a special trip to come to celebrate her. The preparation of an opera star is quite a bit different than it is with most musical talent. She has a good solid foundation to start with. She will probably be fully mature as an opera singer in about ten years. She’s a baby singer. Can you imagine what she will sound like in ten years? Today is not the voice you will hear five years from now.  It is not the voice you will hear ten years from now.”