Page 34 - Classical Singer magazine 2019 Fall University Issue
P. 34

The Griffey Gospel
Anthony Dean Gri ey’s inexorable rise to stardom is perhaps one of the least likely journeys in the world of classical music. With an imposing physical presence that belies his sweetly lyrical and deeply expressive voice, Gri ey isn’t just a  ne singer. He’s an actor, a self- proclaimed “closet dancer,” a teacher, and a mentor with an important message for the next generation of young artists.
A painfully shy child, Gri ey found solace in music at the tender age of  ve. Each Sunday he took the bus on his own to the First Baptist Church in High Point, North Carolina, where he fell in love with the hymns, especially when Sylvia Carter was accompanying on the church organ. She saw signi cant potential in Gri ey, o ering him free lessons. Gri ey remembers fondly, “Singing in church in many ways saved my life. It gave me an outlet.”
Carter helped to pave the way
for Gri ey’s future, donating their church piano and moving it into Gri ey’s home during his junior year so he could practice for his college audition. Those hours of rehearsal paid o  handsomely when Gri ey landed
at Wingate University to pursue a degree in sacred music. His plan was to continue sharing the gospel as a master’s student, but his talent and passion soon led him down a di erent path.
Worship music fed Gri ey’s soul, so the life of a music minister seemed like the most logical  nal step in his career progression. Gri ey supported himself during his college years by leading music in church, but his position as a choir director wasn’t easy. “I used to physically get sick when I had to lead choirs,” he recalls. “Choirs can be a
bit  ckle. If they don’t like an anthem, they might not show up on a particular
Sunday.” Standing in front of 14 choir members on any given Sunday may have rattled Gri ey’s nerves, but only a few years later he found himself standing in front of over 3,000 people as a star at the Metropolitan Opera.
In his heart, Gri ey always wanted to perform, but he didn’t exactly  nd his oeuvre overnight. Most opera
fans may not realize that he is a  exible, tireless dancer. He quips, “It’s extremely important at whatever size a singer is, that they’re comfortable in their body. Had I taken professional dance training and been thin, I may have gone the Broadway route.”
As an undergraduate, Gri ey won
a National Association of Teachers of Singing competition. Marcia Baldwin, then a faculty member at Eastman School of Music, was one of his
judges. She heard something special in Gri ey’s voice and she encouraged him to audition for a master’s degree at her
Hone your passion alongside an illustrious faculty of distinguished musicians. Study
“I loved my time at DePaul as an undergraduate in the vocal program. DePaul helps set the foundation that one needs to thrive in the operatic world and to grow as an artist and colleague.”
and perform in the stunning new state-of- the-art Holtschneider Performance Center. Engage in a collaborative, performance-focused environment.
34 Classical Singer | September/October 2019
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