The Info List - William Warfield

William Caesar Warfield (22 January 1920 – 26 August 2002), was an American concert bass-baritone singer and actor. One of his earliest professional engagements was in Marc Blitzstein's Broadway opera, Regina. His breakthrough came when he gave his recital debut in New York's Town Hall in 1950. He went on to produce a highly acclaimed album of selections from Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
with Leontyne Price
Leontyne Price
in 1963.[1]


1 Biography

1.1 Early life and career 1.2 Decline and death

2 Membership of organizations 3 Legacy 4 References 5 External links

Biography[edit] Early life and career[edit] Warfield was born in West Helena, Arkansas, the oldest of five sons of a Baptist minister.[1] He grew up in Rochester, New York, where his father was called to serve as pastor of Mt. Vernon Church. He gave his recital debut in New York's Town Hall on 19 March 1950. He was quickly invited by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
to tour Australia and give 35 concerts. In 1952, Warfield performed in Porgy and Bess during a tour of Europe sponsored by the U.S. State Department
U.S. State Department
(he made six separate tours for the US Department of State, more than any other American solo artist.) In this production he played opposite the opera star Leontyne Price, whom he soon married, but the demands of two separate careers left them little time together. They divorced in 1972, but were featured together in a 1963 studio recording of excerpts from Porgy and Bess. According to a recent exhibit about World War Two, Warfield was the only African American member of the "Ritchie Boys", thousands of soldiers who were trained at Fort Ritchie, Maryland. It was an intelligence center where hundreds of Jewish recruits who fled Nazi Germany for the United States were trained to interrogate their one-time countrymen. According to the exhibit at the Zekelman Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Warfield was brought to the camp because of his strong German skills which he perfected while studying music. Because of segregation, his skills were never put to use. Warfield was a graduate of the Eastman School of Music. In 1975 he accepted an appointment as Professor of Music at the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign. He later became Chairman of the Voice Department. In 1994, he moved to Northwestern University's School of Music, where he stayed until his death. He sang the premiere performances of the version for soloist and orchestra of Set I of Aaron Copland's Old American Songs in 1955, and of the version for soloist and piano of Set II of the collection in 1958. (He also recorded both sets of the songs.) His vocal talents were also featured on two recordings of Handel's "Messiah" – a classic, but heavily cut, performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Eugene Ormandy
Eugene Ormandy
(released in 1959), and a lesser-known, drastically restructured recording made in 1956, also heavily cut, with Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
and the New York Philharmonic. Bernstein combined the Christmas and Resurrection sections, and ended with the arias and choruses depicting the death of Christ. The Ormandy recording featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Bernstein's the Westminster Choir. Warfield was also accomplished in acting and poetry recitation. He played the character De Lawd in a celebrated Hallmark Hall of Fame television production of The Green Pastures, a role he played twice on live TV (both versions survive as kinescopes).[2] He appeared in two Hollywood films, including a star-making performance as Joe in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's 1951 Technicolor remake of Show Boat. His other film was an overlooked item called "Old Explorers", starring James Whitmore and José Ferrer. In a nod to "Show Boat", Warfield played a cameo role as a tugboat captain. Footage of Warfield in "Show Boat" has been included in several TV shows and/or films, notably That's Entertainment!. Warfield played his Show Boat
Show Boat
role in two other productions of the musical – the 1966 Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center
production, and a 1972 production in Vienna. He sang Ol' Man River in three different record albums of the show – the 1951 motion picture soundtrack album on MGM Records, a 1962 studio album featuring Barbara Cook
Barbara Cook
and John Raitt on Columbia Masterworks, and the RCA Victor
RCA Victor
album made from the Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center
production. He made an appearance on The Colgate Comedy Hour
The Colgate Comedy Hour
and on a program called TV Recital Hall in 1951, the same year that he made his screen debut in Show Boat. He later appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show
in 1955. In 1961, he appeared as a recital soloist on an episode of the Young People's Concerts, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. In March 1984 he was the winner of a Grammy
in the "Spoken Word" category for his outstanding narration of Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait accompanied by the Eastman Philharmonia [1]. And in the 1990s, he narrated a special jazz arrangement of music from "Show Boat", on the PRI program Riverwalk Jazz. In 1999 Warfield joined baritones Robert Sims and Benjamin Matthews in a trio by the name of "Three Generations". Managed by Arthur White, this ensemble toured the United States giving full concerts of African-American spirituals and folk songs until Warfield's death in 2002. Decline and death[edit] Beginning in 1962, Warfield began to have some trouble with his voice, as he himself admitted in his autobiography. This was only slightly noticeable on the 1962 studio recording of Show Boat. By the time he made the 1966 recording of the Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center
production of the musical, his voice had deepened from merely bass-baritone to a full-fledged bass, and he could not sing the climactic high note on Ol' Man River as easily as he had in the 1951 film version, though he sounded fine on his lower notes. Because of this problem, however, he compensated by learning how to sing even more expressively than he had before.[citation needed] By 1976, Warfield, although still making various stage and television appearances, was not singing as much as he had in the past. He served as narrator in various orchestral works, such as Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait, and occasionally performed sprechstimme roles in works by Arnold Schoenberg. However, he did sing on occasion during his final years, despite the fact that by then his singing voice was practically gone. In those years, when he sang Ol' Man River, he would not perform it with the original lyrics, but with the altered ones that Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson
used in his recitals beginning in 1938.[citation needed] He died in Chicago
in August 2002, following treatment at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, succumbing to injuries he sustained in his neck from a fall a month prior.[1][3] Membership of organizations[edit] Warfield was active in many organizations, after appearing as the featured artist at the 50th year convention of the National Association of Negro Musicians [2], he became active with the organization, serving as its president for two terms. He later served on the boards of the [3] NANM and the Schiller Institute. After joining the Schiller Institute
Schiller Institute
in 1996, he began to collaborate with acclaimed vocal coach Sylvia Olden Lee in a project to save the performance tradition of the Negro spiritual.[4] During the final years of his life, from 1999 to 2002, he performed regularly at Schiller Institute
Schiller Institute
biannual conferences, often with Olden Lee as his accompanist, and the two of them traveled the country conducting singing workshops for members of the LaRouche Youth Movement.[5] Warfield was made an honorary member of the Delta Lambda chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
at Ball State University in 1961, and awarded the Fraternity's Charles E. Lutton Man of Music Award in 1976 at its national convention in Evansville, Indiana. Legacy[edit] The William Warfield
William Warfield
Scholarship Fund was formed in 1977 with the purpose supporting young African American classical singers at the Eastman School of Music. Recipients include Claron McFadden
Claron McFadden
and Nicole Cabell.[6] It has provided financial aid to over 35 students to date.[7] References[edit]

^ a b c "William Warfield, 82, Baritone Known for 'Porgy,' Is Dead". The New York Times. 27 August 2002. Retrieved 27 February 2015.  ^ " William Warfield
William Warfield
BM 42". rochester.edu. Retrieved 27 February 2015.  ^ "Artist Biography by Joseph Stevenson". allmusic.com. Retrieved 27 February 2015.  ^ "'Save the African-American Spititual' A Dialogue with William Warfield and Sylvia Olden Lee". Schiller Institute. Retrieved 27 February 2015.  ^ "Obituary ( William Warfield
William Warfield
1920-2002)". Schiller Institute. Retrieved 27 February 2015.  ^ "SCHOLARSHIP BENEFIT CONCERT HELPS CONTINUE THE LEGACY OF WILLIAM WARFIELD". rochester.edu. Retrieved 27 February 2015.  ^ "ANNUAL CONCERT CELEBRATES LEGACY OF WILLIAM WARFIELD, BENEFITS SCHOLARSHIP FUND". rochester.edu. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 

External links[edit]

Biography portal

William Warfield
William Warfield
on IMDb William Warfield
William Warfield
at the Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
William Warfield
William Warfield
Scholarship Fund Schiller Institute
Schiller Institute
biography and obituary William Warfield
William Warfield
interview by Bruce Duffie National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. William Warfield
William Warfield
at Find a Grave

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Award for Best Spoken Word Album


Stan Freberg
Stan Freberg
– The Best of the Stan Freberg
Stan Freberg
Shows (1959) Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg
Lincoln Portrait (1960) Robert Bialek (producer) – FDR Speaks (1961) Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
– Humor in Music (1962) Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton
– The Story-Teller: A Session With Charles Laughton (1963) Edward Albee
Edward Albee
(playwright) – Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
(1964) That Was the Week That Was
That Was the Week That Was
– BBC Tribute to John F. Kennedy (1965) Goddard Lieberson
Goddard Lieberson
(producer) – John F. Kennedy - As We Remember Him (1966) Edward R. Murrow
Edward R. Murrow
Edward R. Murrow
Edward R. Murrow
- A Reporter Remembers, Vol. I The War Years (1967) Everett Dirksen
Everett Dirksen
– Gallant Men (1968) Rod McKuen
Rod McKuen
– Lonesome Cities (1969) Art Linkletter
Art Linkletter
& Diane Linkletter – We Love You Call Collect (1970) Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
– Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam (1971) Les Crane
Les Crane
– Desiderata (1972) Bruce Botnick (producer) – Lenny performed by the original Broadway cast (1973) Richard Harris
Richard Harris
Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1974) Peter Cook
Peter Cook
and Dudley Moore
Dudley Moore
– Good Evening (1975) James Whitmore
James Whitmore
Give 'em Hell, Harry!
Give 'em Hell, Harry!
(1976) Henry Fonda, Helen Hayes, James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones
and Orson Welles
Orson Welles
- Great American Documents (1977) Julie Harris – The Belle of Amherst
The Belle of Amherst
(1978) Orson Welles
Orson Welles
Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1979) John Gielgud
John Gielgud
– Ages of Man - Readings From Shakespeare


Pat Carroll – Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
(1981) Orson Welles
Orson Welles
Donovan's Brain
Donovan's Brain
(1982) Tom Voegeli (producer) – Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders of the Lost Ark
- The Movie on Record performed by Various Artists (1983) William Warfield
William Warfield
Lincoln Portrait (1984) Ben Kingsley
Ben Kingsley
– The Words of Gandhi (1985) Mike Berniker (producer) & the original Broadway cast – Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1986) Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chips Moman, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins
Carl Perkins
and Sam Phillips
Sam Phillips
– Interviews From the Class of '55 Recording Sessions (1987) Garrison Keillor
Garrison Keillor
Lake Wobegon Days (1988) Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson
– Speech by Rev. Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson
(1989) Gilda Radner
Gilda Radner
– It's Always Something (1990) George Burns
George Burns
– Gracie: A Love Story (1991) Ken Burns
Ken Burns
– The Civil War (1992) Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Robert O'Keefe – What You Can Do to Avoid AIDS (1993) Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou
On the Pulse of Morning
On the Pulse of Morning
(1994) Henry Rollins
Henry Rollins
– Get in the Van (1995) Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou
– Phenomenal Woman (1996) Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
It Takes a Village (1997) Charles Kuralt
Charles Kuralt
– Charles Kuralt's Spring (1998) Christopher Reeve
Christopher Reeve
Still Me
Still Me
(1999) LeVar Burton
LeVar Burton
– The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.


Sidney Poitier, Rick Harris & John Runnette (producers) – The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (2001) Quincy Jones, Jeffrey S. Thomas, Steven Strassman (engineers) and Elisa Shokoff (producer) – Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones (2002) Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou
and Charles B. Potter (producer) – A Song Flung Up to Heaven / Robin Williams, Nathaniel Kunkel (engineer/mixer) and Peter Asher (producer) – Live 2002 (2003) Al Franken
Al Franken
and Paul Ruben (producer) – Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (2004) Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
– My Life (2005) Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father
(2006) Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
– Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis / Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee
Ruby Dee
- With Ossie and Ruby (2007) Barack Obama
Barack Obama
and Jacob Bronstein (producer) – The Audacity of Hope (2008) Beau Bridges, Cynthia Nixon
Cynthia Nixon
and Blair Underwood
Blair Underwood
– An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
Al Gore
(2009) Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox
– Always Looking Up (2010) Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart
– The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart
Presents Earth (The Audiobook) (2011) Betty White
Betty White
– If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't) (2012) Janis Ian
Janis Ian
– Society's Child (2013) Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert
– America Again: Re-becoming The Greatness We Never Weren't (2014) Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers
– Diary of a Mad Diva (2015) Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
– A Full Life: Reflections at 90 (2016) Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
– In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox (2017) Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher
The Princess Diarist
The Princess Diarist

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 44489000 LCCN: n82025101 ISNI: 0000 0000 7357 6562 GND: 119286742 SUDOC: 180698982 BNF: cb139383026 (data) MusicBrainz: 262c8c46-6ec0-403e-b41a-74015c3c46d3 BNE: XX1275930 SN