The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Alfreda Burke

Share on Social Media

Information about Alfreda Burke

Profile image of Alfreda Burke

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Melon
Favorite Food:
Greens (Collard)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Italy, England
Favorite Quote:
What Goes Around, Comes Around.

Birthplace

Born:
6/17/1961
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Melon
Favorite Food:
Greens (Collard)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Italy, England
Favorite Quote:
What Goes Around, Comes Around.

Birthplace

Born:
6/17/1961
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Alfreda Burke is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

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.

See how Alfreda Burke is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Alfreda Burke narrates her photographs
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alfreda Burke lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alfreda Burke lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alfreda Burke describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alfreda Burke talks about her mother's childhood and education, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alfreda Burke talks about her mother's childhood and education, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alfreda Burke talks about her mother's childhood accident
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alfreda Burke talks about her mother's college education and move to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alfreda Burke describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alfreda Burke describes her father's experiences as a musician before his call to the ministry
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alfreda Burke talks about her father's call to the ministry
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alfreda Burke describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alfreda Burke talks about which of her parents she takes after
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alfreda Burke talks about her sister and their experience as preacher's kids
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alfreda Burke describes her childhood in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Alfreda Burke describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alfreda Burke describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alfreda Burke talks about her experience at Mary Church Terrell Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alfreda Burke describes her experience at Rudyard Kipling Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alfreda Burke describes her academic and artistic interests in school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alfreda Burke describes her interests at Lindblom Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alfreda Burke talks about the congregation at her father's First Mennonite Church in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alfreda Burke describes her experience at Lindblom Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alfreda Burke describes her graduation from Lindblom Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alfreda Burke talks about enrolling at the Chicago Musical College at Roosevelt University in 1979
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alfreda Burke talks about her musical abilities in high school and some of the ensembles she sang in
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alfreda Burke talks about her voice teacher at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois and the Alexander technique
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alfreda Burke talks about vocal health and taking care of her mother
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alfreda Burke talks about some of the technical elements of her musical education
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alfreda Burke talks about the factors that inform a musician's interpretation of a piece of classical music
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alfreda Burke talks about how music history informs performers' musical interpretations
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alfreda Burke talks about famous black sopranos and the different types of operatic sopranos
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alfreda Burke talks about the power of children's singing voices
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alfreda Burke talks about maintaining a healthy voice while crossing musical genres
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alfreda Burke recalls meeting Chicago Mayor Harold Washington
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alfreda Burke talks about beginning her career in music education at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Laboratory School in Evanston, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alfreda Burke describes her experience teaching music at Martin Luther King, Jr. Laboratory School in Evanston, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alfreda Burke describes her graduate recital at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois in 1987, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alfreda Burke describes her graduate recital at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois in 1987, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alfreda Burke talks about her voice teachers, mentors, and inspirations
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Alfreda Burke talks about vocal phrasing and the importance of acting in opera
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alfreda Burke describes her experience singing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alfreda Burke talks about her experience singing oratorios
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alfreda Burke describes her experience singing in Richard Strauss' "Elektra" with Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alfreda Burke talks about studying foreign language pronunciation as a singer
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alfreda Burke talks about the differences in singing technique between opera and gospel
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alfreda Burke talks about joining the cast of "Show Boat" in 1995 and leaving her job as a teacher
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alfreda Burke describes her experience performing in "Show Boat" in 1995, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alfreda Burke describes her experience performing in "Show Boat" in 1995, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Alfreda Burke reflects on the message and music of "Show Boat"
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alfreda Burke remembers meeting her husband, HistoryMaker Rodrick Dixon
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alfreda Burke recalls her wedding to HistoryMaker Rodrick Dixon and their careers in 1998
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alfreda Burke talks about teaching at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music from 1997 until 2009
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Alfreda Burke talks about performing "Too Hot to Handel," pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Alfreda Burke talks about performing "Too Hot to Handel," pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Alfreda Burke talks about the creation of DiBurke, Inc. and her album "From the Heart"
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Alfreda Burke describes the scope of DiBurke, Inc.
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Alfreda Burke talks about serving as an alumni ambassador for the sixtieth anniversary of Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Alfreda Burke describes her work with the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra in Berkeley, California, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Alfreda Burke describes her work with the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra in Berkeley, California, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Alfreda Burke describes recording "Hallelujah Broadway" in Prague, Czech Republic in 2010
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Alfreda Burke talks about performing "Hallelujah Broadway" in Cincinnati, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Alfreda Burke describes performing in "Siamsa na nGael" in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Alfreda Burke describes her "Songs of a Dream" concert, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Alfreda Burke describes her "Songs of a Dream" concert, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Alfreda Burke talks about her future projects
  • Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Alfreda Burke lists the organizations she is involved in
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Alfreda Burke talks about orchestras she has performed with
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Alfreda Burke describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Alfreda Burke reflects on her career
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Alfreda Burke reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Alfreda Burke reflects upon the label of "crossover artist"
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Alfreda Burke talks about her family
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Alfreda Burke reflects on how she would like to be remembered