shelby banks
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shelby banks

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band Classical Jazz


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"Shelby Banks, a rising American soprano comes to Paris on April 22nd"

Shelby Banks, a rising American soprano comes to Paris, France to launch her 2010 Ancestral Visions European Tour featuring a collection of art songs, arias and Spirituals by African-American composers.

Ms. Banks will present “Ancestral Legacy: A Concert of African American Song” at the American Cathedral in Paris at 23 avenue George V on Thursday 22 April 2010 from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM in the cathedral’s sanctuary.

Ms. Banks has filled concert halls with song throughout the United States and Europe. Performing before sold-out audiences, she has delighted with her interpretive and stirring renditions of the Spirituals. "The Spirituals are the brainchild of millions of enslaved Africans looking for a way to express their despair and unshakable desire for freedom. Whether songs of religious fervor are a way to convey escape, Spirituals still have the power to change lives and heal hearts", Shelby expresses.

This concert of music has touched the hearts and souls of diverse groups of people and created a positive and impactful change in the ways one participates in the human race. Ms. Banks is committed to offering enlightened performances aimed at uniting people of all walks of life and spreading love and friendship through music. -


Still working on that hot first release.



Find your own notes…string them together in a phrase… listen to your personal truth… infuse your rhythm with the spirit of your ancestors… and you will always have your own SONG. For classically trained lyric soprano Shelby Banks, that ‘song’ has evolved into more than just performances of opera, oratorio or classical art songs.

Instead, a special kind of musical tribute, her concert series entitled "Ancestral Legacy" is burgeoning with recognition throughout the United States and Europe. The concert features the music of African American composers including Margaret Bonds, William Grant Steel, Hall Johnson, Betty Jackson King and Duke Ellington and pays homage to the beauty of her ancestors and connects her to the spiritual legacy they imparted within her.

While the program includes a vast body of work of arias from lesser known operas and art songs which were inspired by the poetry of African Americans, Banks says the highlight for her, is the Spirituals portion, which takes her back to the very beginning of her musical journey. “No matter what kind of music I sing, I always return to the Spirituals. They are the musical and emotional foundation for me and their messages help to govern how I live my life”.

The Rochester, New York native developed an early love for spirituals while listening to her mother. She states that her mother’s influence helped her musical interpretation of other genres, particularly when learning operatic and oratorio pieces. “There was a tremendous reverence for art in my family and my mother view music as the ultimate communication with God. She taught me to respect the music as it was written, to gather an understanding of the text so that I could sing with conviction. And so… it was first through her influence that I learned to sing spirituals, and then through these other musical angels who continued to gift the knowledge to me”. While the ‘angels’ are too numerous to name, Shelby does indicate a pivotal turning point in her life came when she decided to attend Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia where she met opera singer Karen Savage and music historian, Odell Hobbs. Both provided her an education about the dialect, context and polyrhythmic values needed to sing the Spirituals properly. Along with this came the names of composers whose works she now honors today.

Described by the Sheboygan Press in Wisconsin as an “angelic” and “powerful” voice, Shelby’s star continues to rise, and she has been fortunate enough to portray several characters including Mimì from the opera La Bohème, Micaëla from the opera Carmen, and Serena from the opera Porgy and Bess. In addition to her work as a performer, Ms. Banks is an actor that has portrayed roles that sometimes seem as complex as her own life: Redhead from “The Love Talker” and Calillee from “Here Am I, Send Me”. As part of her concert series, she offers master classes to aspiring singers and community groups and also is a producer. Her production credits include having tremendous success for sold out productions of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf, “The Wiz” and musical collaborations with other singers as “Music Amongst Friends”.

An unwavering desire to follow her dreams is apparent from the first moment you meet her and a determination to succeed is unmistakably in her eyes…. here is a singer who, through the remembrance of her ancestor’s legacy, has found her own voice.