Sep 3, 2020
She started singing as a 5-year-old girl at Mt Calvary Baptist Church in Indianapolis, where her grandfather was the minister.
Soprano Angela Brown, 56, went on to become an international opera star, performing everywhere from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City - where she made a sensational debut in 2004 - to prestigious venues in Paris, London and Shanghai. She has sung the national anthem at the Lincoln Memorial In Washington D.C. and at games of the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers in her hometown.
She recently founded Freddie Mae's Daughter, a company offering such products as "handcrafted jewelry, masks and other Afrocentric accessories." The business is named for Angela's late mother, Freddie Mae Brown, an Indianapolis artist and nurse. Angela also is converting her one-woman show, Opera from a Sistah's Point of View, into a virtual program for opera companies across the country; the show includes Angela's re-telling of opera plots from a Black perspective.
Angela will discuss these endeavors - and others, including a new podcast with Classical Music Indy that she co-hosts, Melanated Moments in Classical Music - when she is Nelson's guest. The podcast showcases music composed by, for or about Black people, with commentary from Angela and her co-host, sociologist Joshua Thompson.
She also will discuss her roots in Indianapolis, where Angela still owns a house. In her hometown, she has given master classes at Indianapolis Opera.
Also in Indiana, she has created Morning Brown, Inc., a non-profit foundation with a mission that involves, according to its website, "bridging the gap between accessible, live-music programs and underserved individuals, schools and communities."
Angela, who has been acclaimed for her singing of spirituals as well as opera, grew up near Broadway and 30th Streets. According to a profile of her in 19 Stars of Indiana: Exceptional Hoosier Women (IU Press, 2009), her father, Clyde Brown, was an autoworker at a Chrysler plant for more than 40 years. Like Freddie Mae Brown, he died in 2008.
At Attucks, Angela became active in the vocal music program. Her mentor was choir director Robert Fleck; Angela has told interviewers that "his encouragement made a lasting impression." Hoosier History Live explored the music program during an Attucks High School history show in 2014, which cited Angela Brown as among the distinguished alums.
Her debut at the Met - which resulted in national media coverage from the New York Times, CNN and Oprah magazine, among others - was in Aida, an opera by Verdi. She portrayed the title role of an Ethiopian princess who briefly enjoys happiness before tragedy ensues.
"The opera ended amid cries of 'Brava!' and an immediate and extended standing ovation," according to 19 Stars. "Adoring fans rushed down the aisles proffering bouquets and throwing flowers onto the stage."
Since her triumph at the Met, Angela has collaborated with American composer Richard Danielpour on several projects. He set the poetry of Maya Angelou for Angela's voice in an orchestral song cycle titled "A Woman's Life." She has performed the piece with symphony orchestras in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Nashville, Tenn.
In 2011, Angela married Anselme Blaise Argelier, a French dancer. Their wedding was in Paris, where the couple had met several years earlier when both were performing in an opera. In recent years, Argelier has retired from dancing; as a result, the couple has been able to spend more time at their home in Indianapolis.
With the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Angela has performed at yuletide pops concerts; she also has been a soloist with the Carmel Symphony Orchestra. Her honors include induction into the Indianapolis Public Schools Hall of Fame.