Denyce Graves has sung for Gerald Ford, Ted Kennedy, Marian Anderson, ad George W. Bush. She’s performed for the Supreme Court justices and is a panelist for American Idol Underground. In other words, she’s a real-live opera star — and she’s also the newest voice instructor for the Peabody Conservatory.
While Graves’ opera bona fides are apparent, the hiring came as something of a surprise. When Graves stopped by Peabody last fall to teach a master class, she wasn’t angling for a job. “She didn’t know she was auditioning,” said Phyllis Bryn-Julson, chair of the school’s voice department (and an opera star herself). But Graves impressed the students so much that the school started considering her for a position with the voice faculty. “Anybody who can pick up her skirt with her teeth while her hands are tied behind her back is on my front burner,” said Bryn-Julson, referring to Graves’ impressive debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1995.