Opera singer Alfreda Burke was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 17, 1961. Her father, John H. Burke, Jr., was a pastor; her mother, Mamie Burke, a church administrator. She received her BM and MM degrees from Roosevelt University Chicago Musical College (1984, 1987).
Burke made her Carnegie and Orchestra Hall debuts in Strauss’ Elektra in 1995 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Daniel Barenboim. She has also performed with numerous orchestras and at various venues in North America and Europe, including the Auditorium Theatre (1995); the Chicago Symphony Center (1997); the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia; the Kennedy Center (1998); the Detroit Opera House/DSO/Rackham Symphony Choir (2002); the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (2003); the Chorus Angelorum (2003, 2010); the Cincinnati Pops Symphony Orchestra (2011); the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra (2004); the Lancaster Festival (2003); the Umbria Music Festival (Italy) (2007); the Prague Philharmonic (2010); the TodiMusicFest (2007); the Millennium Park Gala (2008); the Miss World (China) (2012); and the NATO Chicago Summit (2012).
Burke’s oratorio, opera, concert and musical theater engagements include the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts broadcast on WFMT-FM; Mozart’s Requiem; Handel’s Messiah; Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Beethoven’s Mass in C; Poulenc Gloria; Mahler’s 2nd & 8th Symphonies; Strauss’ Elektra; Puccini’s Turandot; Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta; Barber’sKnoxville: Summer of 1915; Menotti’s Amahl & the Night Visitors; Rutter’s Requiem; Boulez’s Le Visage Nuptial; Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess; Bernstein’s West Side Story; and Kern’s Show Boat (Prince). She was featured in CSO’s Symphony Center Inaugural Festival and Radiothon.
In 2002, Burke and her husband, opera singer Rodrick Dixon, performed in Too Hot to Handel The Jazz-Gospel Messiah at the Detroit Opera House and the Auditorium Theatre (2006). Burke performed with Tenors Cook, Dixon & Young (formerly the Three Mo’ Tenors) as a featured soloist.
Burke’s work in recordings, music video, television, radio, film and commercials, includes Celine Dion and R. Kelly’s I’m Your Angel; The Visit; The Visitors; Unconditional Love; guest soloist appearances on WTTW/Odyssey’s broadcast, 30 Good Minutes; solo CD, From the Heart; the Prague PBS Special Hallelujah Broadway; and the Chicago Olympic 2016 Bid Anthem, I Will Stand. Some of Burke’s other engagements include the Auditorium Theatre & DiBurke Inc. co-produced show “Songs of A Dream,” CD release, and national tour; and Old St. Patrick’s Church production of Siamsa na nGael at Symphony Center.
Burke has taught music and voice at a number of institutions, including Evanston/Skokie District 65 (1985-1996); the CSO Musicians Residency at South Shore Cultural Center (1996-1998); the Wheaton College Conservatory Voice Faculty (1998-2009); the Carl Sandburg High School (2004-2007); the Chicago State University Voice Faculty (2007-2008); the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra, Berkeley, California (2009-2012); the Wright State University Music & Medicine Symposium (2009-Present); and master classes throughout the US.
Burke is a Roosevelt University CCPA Advisory Board member and served on the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid Arts & Culture Advisory Committee. In 2005, Burke was an Alumna Ambassador for Roosevelt University's 60th Anniversary.
Opera singer Alfreda Burke was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 20, 2013.