Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What makes a great soprano? A lot more than simply learning to hit the right note! It requires a great deal of hard work and sacrifice, but the journey to your bow and receiving the applause from your audience is so rewarding. As a classical soprano, there is nothing quite like successfully executing a piece like Mozart's Queen of the Night. Your goal should not only be to give the audience goosebumps, but touch your own heart as well.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Joyce DiDonato discusses, not only the "how to" of singing, but the true meaning of being a singer. Covering the importance of both hard-work and finding the enjoyment in the art of singing, she shares her experience as an acclaimed mezzo-soprano with the students at The Julliard School. Art, in her opinion, is about immersing yourself in your craft, and seeking the strength within to allow yourself to create in a peaceful, loving headspace. Art isn't about being perfect and judging yourself up for your mistakes while growing. Life is art, and it is meant to be enjoyed. My philosophy is that art has to come from an honest place and should never be manipulative or contrived.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Proverbs & Artistry

There is a Kenyan proverb which states that, “Until lions start writing down their own stories, the hunters will always be heroes.” Friends, you are lions! Write our story. Draw our story. Paint our story. Sculpt our story. Do so without reservation, without qualification, and without hesitation. Give our people the tools that we need to tell our story!

This sums up why I do what I do, and how I approach creating Art. It didn't begin as a "conscious decision"...it was simply my process. Now, I embrace and celebrate my gift and ability to honor those great performers of color who paved the way for me!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Opera Noir's 2013 "Haydn 2 Hip Hop Master Class" at Crenshaw High School

Opera Noir

2013 "Haydn 2 Hip Hop" Master Class

Celebrating Today's Emerging Artists

Opera Noir's 2013 "Haydn 2 Hip Hop" Master Class series at Crenshaw High School was an incredible experience for both Opera Noir Team Members and the students of the Crenshaw High School Choir. Over the course of two days, lead by Opera Noir Artistic Director, J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark, the talented students were coached by industry professionals in the fields of dance and vocal performance, as well as business and entrepreneurship.


Artistic Director J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark smiles as one student performs a powerful rendition of Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All".

The classroom was still as the audience was captivated by another solo performance during the Vocal Master Class.

Artistic Director J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark embraces a graduating senior who expresses his gratitude for how he has grown over the past 2 years in the partnership between Crenshaw High and Opera Noir.


Opera Noir has partnered with Crenshaw High School for more than 10 years to provide professional Artist Development programs, and to encourage students to strive towards excellence in their careers.  Given the special history between the two entities, Artistic Director J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark was thrilled to offer an opportunity to partner with Crenshaw High School Choir Director Iris Stevenson again. Mrs. Smith-Clark and Ms. Stevenson are committed to preparing the students for university and conservatory auditions, and admission, by providing them with the necessary skill sets to ensure a successful career in not only the entertainment industry, but also as business professional and entrepreneurs. 

Artistic Director J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark gives the students an inspiring "pep talk" prior to the dance portion of the Master Class.

Opera Noir Principal Dancer Simonne Gabrielle leads the class in a high intensity cardio warm up.

Stretch it out! The students practice their laterals before learning choreography.

Simonne Gabrielle breaks down the choreography for the future superstars.

A behind the scenes look at "Conversations with J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark" taping interviewing Iris Stevenson.

Artistic Director J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark, Crenshaw High School Choir Director  
Iris Stevenson, and celebrity make up artist Mark Starr are all smiles before the Entertainment Industry Business Seminar.


Opera Noir continues to grow and significantly impact the lives of children and their families in low-to-moderate income communities thanks to the generous support of our funding partners. Over the course of 2012, Opera Noir reached a total of 7,500 people with 81% coming from low-to-moderate income households in the Los Angeles and in the San Francisco area.

   Thank you to our partners in Los Angeles,  The Bay Area, and around the country, for     
   your continued support, and for allowing Opera Noir to impact the lives of artists and      
   communities with the beauty and the benefits of the Arts and Arts Education.


   J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark - Artistic Director

"Who in this room is the next great entertainer?"

Monday, April 1, 2013

On That Note: What does it mean to “connect” with a song, or piece of music?

I know that you’ve been sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for the second
installment in this dialog…and here it is!

What does it mean to “connect” with a song, or piece of music?

Start with what is on the page.

Some singers start with the music, some with the text. I am a text person, however,
I will allow room for personal preference. If you choose to start with the music,
take note of all the markings and notations of the composer. This is the first step
in interpreting the intentions of the composer. Depending on your level of musical
proficiency, the score will offer great insight in terms of chord structure, mood
(based on major or minor keys), and reoccurring themes and motifs.

If you choose to start with the text, the obvious place to begin is to determine what
the librettist is trying to convey. In the case of an aria or musical theater piece, you
have to understand who the character is, what their intention is in the piece,
and what lead them to that intent. Even in Jazz and Popular music, the singer has to
understand the “story” and/or “intention” of a song. If you don’t know where you
are going, how can you expect an audience to connect with and join you?

I believe that great performances are created “in the moment”. However, an
authentic moment can only come from being fully prepared, and having done the
research that allows you to work from “beat to beat” in both the text and in the

I believe that the same holds true for great dance performances. There is so much
more to dance than doing steps and moving to the music. Understanding the style
and era from which the music is drawn, again, provides a point of reference. The
same holds true of characterization, and the ability to connect with the music and
how it influences the way in which the story is being told.

Great artists have the ability to make countless hours of research and rehearsal look
effortless and immediate every time. That is the magic and the mystery of “being in
the moment”. And…On That Note…

I bid you Toi, Toi, Toi, till next time,

J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark

For me, the greatest moment in Opera of all time.  A "must watch" to the very end.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Duke Ellington & John Coltrane - In a sentimental mood

Although I am a classical soprano, I was heavily influence by great Jazz, Soul, and, R & B female vocalists.  I actually sang jazz in clubs in Pittsburgh, Pa for years to pay for my classical voice lessons! 

I humbly offer, what I believe to be, one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Two legendary African American artists - Duke Ellington and John Coltrane -- came together to share their artistic gifts to express the spirit of an era. 


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Be My Love by Ivan Tolbert

Here is another wonderful performance by African American artist Ivan Tolbert. An incredible voice from a great performer. A talent like this needs to be shared with the world.

Opera Noir celebrates and supports you, Ivan!