Saturday, February 4, 2023
Mississippi museum receives portrait of opera singer Newman
By City News Service
Published January 3, 2022

Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture (Wikipedia)

A Mississippi museum has acquired a portrait of opera singer and music educator Daisy Cecelia Newman, who was born in the state and had an international performing career that included a nomination for a Tony Award.

Newman’s portrait will be included in “The Black Butterfly,” an exhibition about her life at the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture, according to a news release from the city’s tourism agency, Visit Natchez.

Newman was born in Natchez on Jan. 5, 1947. She was 74 when she died Feb. 10.


“This artifact is a significant contribution to our collection,” the museum’s executive director, Bobby Dennis, said in the news release. “I knew Ms. Newman. … Her talent and accolades went far beyond Mississippi. Her acclaim was international.”

The exhibition begins Feb. 14. It will include videos of her performances and additional photos from her sister.

Newman earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Cleveland State University. She also studied at Oberlin Music Conservatory and Oglebay Opera Institute.

Newman sang on five continents and worked with Leonard Bernstein and Robert Shaw, according to a biography published by an arts group she led. As a soprano soloist, one of the roles she performed most often was as Cio-Cio-San in “Madame Butterfly.” Her Tony nomination was for a production of “Porgy and Bess.”

During a 30-year career as an administrator, Newman worked in the education departments of the New York Philharmonic and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 2003, she became executive director of the Young Musicians Program at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2013, she founded the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra, based in Berkeley.

Dennis said the museum’s acquisition of Newman’s portrait was made possible by her sister, Dorothy Hills. The portrait was displayed during Newman’s memorial service Aug. 15 at the Natchez Convention Center. It arrived at the museum Dec. 15 and was presented by former Natchez Mayor Philip West; Mary White, co-founder of the museum; and Jimmy Ware, president of Natchez Business and Civic League.

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