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Camilla Williams
Birth: Oct. 18, 1919
Danville
Danville City
Virginia, USA
Death: Jan. 29, 2012
Bloomington
Monroe County
Indiana, USA

Opera Singer. A respected dramatic soprano, she was the first black woman to sing with the New York City Opera, nine years prior to Marian Anderson's legendary appearance at the Metropolitan. Raised in Danville, she learned to sing at home as well as in church and at 12 received lessons from a voice teacher who had come to town supposedly just to instruct white students. Miss Williams was valedictorian of her high school class and in 1941 graduated from Virginia State University in Petersburg; she taught briefly in Danville until scholarships enabled her to receive advanced training in Philadelphia and New York where she won two Marian Anderson Fellowships and several competitions and on May 15, 1946, became the first black female to appear with the New York City Opera when she sang the role of Cio-Cio-San, the doomed Geisha of Giacomo Puccini's "Madame Butterfly". (Baritone Todd Duncan had sung there the year prior as Tonio in Leoncavallo's "I Pagliacci"). Over her years with City Opera her portrayals included Nedda in "I Pagliacci", Mimi from Puccini's "La Boheme", and the title Ethiopian slave of Verdi's "Aida". Miss Williams undertook a successful South American tour in the early 1950s, sang Butterfly with London's Sadler's Wells Opera in 1954, also in 1954 became the first black artist at the Vienna State Opera, had a noted recital career, and was active in the civil rights movement of the 1960s as was her husband, attorney Charles Beavers (deceased 1970). Following her 1971 retirement from the stage she taught at several New York colleges before accepting a professorship at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music in 1977. A distinguished member of the Bloomington faculty until taking emerita status in 1997, she remained active into advanced years, even teaching occasional voice lessons until shortly before her death from cancer. In 2011 Miss Williams published "The Life of Camilla Williams, The African American Classical Singer and Opera Diva"; her recorded legacy is scant but she can be heard on a disc of highlights from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess". (bio by: Bob Hufford) 
 
Burial:
Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
Record added: Jan 31, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 84263816
Camilla Williams
Added by: Bob Hufford
 
Camilla Williams
Added by: Ron Moody
 
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- Jackie Howard
 Added: Jan. 29, 2014

- Tom A. Hawk
 Added: Jan. 29, 2014

- Bob Hufford
 Added: Jan. 29, 2014
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