Denyce Graves is a native of Washington, D.C., where she attended the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts. She continued her education at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and the New England Conservatory. In 1998, Ms. Graves received an honorary doctorate from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. She was named one of the "50 Leaders of Tomorrow" by Ebony Magazine and was one of Glamour Magazine's 1997 "Women of the Year." In 1999 WQXR Radio in New York named her as one of classical music's "Standard Bearers for the 21st Century." Denyce Graves has been invited on several occasions to perform in recital at The White House, and she provides many benefit performances for various causes special to her throughout each season. Denyce Graves has been the recipient of many awards, including the Grand Prix du Concours International de Chant de Paris, the Eleanor Steber Music Award in the Opera Columbus Vocal Competition, and a Jacobson Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. In 1991, she received the Grand Prix Lyrique, awarded once every three years by the Association des amis de l’opéra de Monte-Carlo, and the Marian Anderson Award, presented to her by Miss Anderson.
Recognized worldwide as one of today's most exciting vocal stars, Denyce Graves continues to gather unparalleled popular and critical acclaim in performances on four continents. USA Today identifies her as "an operatic superstar of the 21st Century," and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution exclaims, "if the human voice has the power to move you, you will be touched by Denyce Graves."
Her career has taken her to the world's great opera houses and concert halls. The combination of her expressive, rich vocalism, elegant stage presence, and exciting theatrical abilities allows her to pursue a wide breadth of operatic portrayals as well as delight audiences in concert and recital appearances. Denyce Graves has become particularly well-known to operatic audiences for her portrayals of the title roles in Carmen and Samson et Dalila. These signature roles have brought Ms.Graves to the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Washington Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Arena di Verona, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opernhaus Zürich, Teatro Real in Madrid, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Los Angeles Opera, and the Festival Maggio Musicale in Florence.In 2008-09, Ms. Graves reprises her historic portrayal of the title role of Margaret Garner for the Michigan Opera Theatre (with performances in Detroit and on tour in Chicago), she returns to the Washington National Opera as the gypsy, Carmen, in a production by Francesca Zambello, and the artist brings the role of Dulcinée to San Diego Opera in the company’s new production of Massenet’s Don Quichotte co-starring Ferruccio Furlanetto. Her vibrant concert and recital schedule takes her throughout North America and highlights include performances with Brian Stokes Mitchell, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Utah Symphony, a program to honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. under the auspices of the Denver Spirituals Project, and a recreation of the historic Marian Anderson concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington as a part of the Lincoln Bicentennial. During the past season, the artist won critical acclaim as Baba the Turk in a Robert Lepage production of The Rake’s Progress at San Francisco Opera, made her Hong Kong debut as Charlotte in Werther at Hong Kong Opera, and appeared in the title role of Carmen with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. She also traveled internationally making extensive tours of concerts, recitals and masterclasses. Outside the world’s most prestigious classical music venues, Ms. Graves offered the American National Anthem at the opening of Nationals Park, the new home for the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball, and was deeply honored to sing in celebration of Pope Benedict XVI‘s first visit to the United States at an open-air Mass in Washington D.C. One of the music world's most sought-after recitalists, Ms. Graves combines her expressive vocalism and exceptional gifts for communication with her dynamic stage presence, enriching audiences around the world. Her programs include classical repertoire of German Lieder, French mélodie, and English art song, as well as the popular music of Broadway musicals, crossover and jazz together with American spirituals. For her New York recital debut, The New York Times wrote, her voice is dusky and earthy. She is a strikingly attractive stage presence and a communicative artist who had the audience with her through four encores.