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Black Opera Alliance Responds to Daniel Roumain Being Removed From Tulsa Opera Concert

Roumain was removed from the 'Greenwood Overcomes' concert for writing lyrics in his commissioned piece that made the performer uncomfortable.

As BroadwayWorld previously reported, Tulsa Opera has removed Daniel Roumain from its lineup for an upcoming concert due to lyrics he wrote in a commissioned piece.

As part of its upcoming "Greenwood Overcomes" concert on Saturday, May 1st commemorating the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Tulsa Opera commissioned four new pieces from contemporary Black composers. Daniel Bernard Roumain was commissioned to compose a piece to be performed by mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves.

The piece that Mr. Roumain submitted, "They Still Want to Kill Us," contained lyrics that Ms. Graves felt uneasy singing. A statement from Tulsa Opera says that Ms. Graves expressed her concerns to Mr. Roumain, and he was asked if he would consider altering his lyrics. He declined.

According to a tweet from Roumain, the lyrics in question were "God Bless America, God Damn America!"

Now, Black Opera Alliance has released a statement on this, saying they are disappointed in the decision.

"The piece was written for Denyce Graves, a Black woman who has the right as an artist to decline to sing text that does not align with her principles," the statement reads. "Rather than respecting and uplifting these two nuanced differences in Black perspective, and hiring another Black artist to sing Mr. Roumain's piece as written, Tulsa Opera in a public statement chose to weaponize the voice of one Black artist to justify the silencing of another."

"The company hides behind a quotation from a Black woman instead of offering a direct response from Mr. Picker, who had been in touch with Mr. Roumain over the course of these events. Unfortunately, this insidious tactic to pit Black people against each other is one to which we have grown accustomed. We reject it. Mr. McConnell, Mr. Picker, and Tulsa Opera should have honored both Ms. Graves' personal preference and Mr. Roumain's personal creation by hiring an additional singer who would perform the aria as commissioned."

Read the full statement below:


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