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William Warfield

Performer

About this Artist

Acclaimed throughout the world as one of the great vocal artists of our times, WILLIAM WARFIELD is a star in every field open to a singer's art. His recital debut in New York's famous Town Hall on March 19, 1950 put this artist, overnight, into the front ranks of concert artists.

Since Warfield's remarkable debut, his career has flourished in a wide assortment of memorable achievements. In 1950, he was invited by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to tour that continent for 35 concerts, including solo performances with their five leading symphony orchestras. Soon after, he signed a contract with MGM to play the featured role of Joe the dock hand in the most recent version of the great Edna Ferber/Jerome Kern musical Show Boat.

Destined to become one of America's greats, Warfield was born in West Helena, Arkansas in 1920, the eldest of five sons. Awarded a scholarship to any American music school of his choice, he chose the Eastman School of Music. There the young singer earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, and after four interim years in military service, returned to Eastman to study for his master’s degree.

After military service, Warfield performed as lead singer in the national touring company of the Broadway hit Call Me Mister. In the almost forty intervening years, Warfield's career has expanded and deepened without interruption – countless concerts, recitals, even performances as a non-singing narrator, with many honors and awards for his impressive contributions to the arts. Among his frequent appearances in foreign countries, this artist has made six separate tours for the U.S. Department of State, more than any other American solo artist.

His many honors and awards include an honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Arkansas in1972, and an honorary Doctorate for "Contribution in the Arts" from Lafayette University (Easton, PA) in 1977. Similar honorary degrees include Boston University in 1982; Doctor of Human Letters from Augustana College (Illinois) in 1983; James Milikin University (Illinois) in 1984, Illinois State University, Bloomington in 1997, and Moorehouse College, Atlanta in 1997. In 1996 he was honored with the Dushkin Award from the Music Center of the Northshore. For many years this artist has also dedicated his time and devotion to the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM).

Warfield won a Grammy in the “spoken word” category for his outstanding narration of Aaron Copland's A Lincoln Portrait, accompanied by the Eastman Philharmonic Orchestra, currently in release under the Mercury-Philips label.