Fredrick Redd not only serves as a principal at North Highland, but he also is a lead baritone singer who has performed with the New York City Opera, Connecticut Grand Opera, Opera North, Opera Carolina, Teatro Grattacielo, Piedmont Opera, Houston Opera Ebony and Verismo Opera among others. He is an inclusion and diversity champion for the firm’s New York office and recently, Fredrick served as an adjudicator for the William Warfield Scholarship Fund, which is dedicated to providing financial support and encouragement for African American students to attain success in the field of classical vocal music. We sat down with Fredrick to discuss his musical background, his experience with the William Warfield Scholarship Fund, how others can support African American in the arts and more.
How did you become involved with the William Warfield Scholarship Fund?
In 2019, my manager booked me to perform as a soloist Puccini’s Messa di Gloria with the Finger Lakes Choral Festival and the Penfield Symphony Orchestra in Rochester. While in Rochester, the conductor of the symphony connected me to the president of the board for the William Warfield Scholarship fund, where we had a nice luncheon. They were attracted to me because of my success in the both the business world and music world and they thought that by serving as an adjudicator I would be a role model for those going into the music profession as a singer. I served as an adjudicator for the 1st Annual William Warfield Scholarship Fund and I had the chance to talk with a lot of parents after the event and encourage them to support their children’s talent.
You’re a professional opera singer – can you tell us how you started your musical career?
It all started when my dad exposed me to rock, R&B, blues, country, classical music, Broadway and opera at a young age. I took piano lessons and played trombone while going to the high school for engineering professions in Houston. When I moved to the Northeast for work a few years after college, I joined a community chorus in Princeton, NJ and the director informed me of my ear for foreign languages and talent for singing, and she encouraged me to take voice lessons. My voice teacher told me that I could be an opera singer, which led me to take classes at Juilliard. While at Juilliard and working full time as an engineer, I met Vincent LaSelva who became my mentor and within in six months of our initial meeting, I was singing a small role in a Central Park Production of Verdi’s La Traviata before a crowd of 15,000. As you might imagine, auditioning in New York City is very competitive (companies from all over the nation come to audition talent), but I began landing leading roles and that led to my debuts in Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, theatre, radio broadcasts and TV commercials, performances abroad and more. To date, I have professionally logged over 150 opera performances and concerts.
What did you learn serving as an adjudicator for the 2nd Annual William Warfield Scholarship Fund Classical Vocal Competition?
This year with the competition being held virtually, adjudicating semi-final and final rounds was very challenging at times because of the limitations of not being live. However, through this I learned that singers can dramatically improve between rounds. I learned that this competition is a great vehicle to identify very talented singers and helps them start their careers with financial support and media attention.
How can others help support African Americans in the arts – especially in the field of classical music?
Attend concerts and donate time or money. Encourage young people to follow their dreams despite obstacles and to never ever give up.
Any other thoughts?
I was asked to serve as a panelist on the Warfield International Panel with other international opera singers and professors of voice. It was a real treat and opportunity to field questions from the young artists and give back from experiences as a seasoned professional in the field.