A Voice for Change: Remembering Nadine Roberts Waters, Operatic Soprano

Nadine Roberts Waters

Nadine Roberts Waters was a notable African American operatic soprano from Wyoming, Ohio, who rose to fame during the early 20th century. She was born on September 10, 1903, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in the town of Wyoming, a suburb of Cincinnati.

Waters started her music training at the age of 12, studying under noted African American musician N. Clark Smith. She later attended Wilberforce University in Ohio, where she studied voice and music theory.

In 1928, Waters made her debut performance at Cincinnati Music Hall, which was a significant achievement for a black woman during a time when racial segregation was still widely practiced in the United States. Her performance was well-received, and she soon became a sought-after performer throughout the Midwest.

Nadine Roberts Waters performed with a number of notable orchestras during her career as an operatic soprano. In addition to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, she also performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Waters was often featured as a soloist in concerts and performances with these orchestras, showcasing her vocal talents and ability to interpret a wide range of classical and operatic repertoire. Her performances helped her gain a reputation as a talented and accomplished performer.

In addition to her work with these orchestras, Waters also performed with the National Negro Opera Company, an organization that was founded in the 1940s to promote the work of black opera singers and composers. With the National Negro Opera Company, she had the opportunity to perform in productions of operas such as Aida, Carmen, and La Traviata, among others. Waters’ work with these orchestras and opera companies helped to pave the way for future generations of black classical musicians, who would continue to break down racial barriers and challenge the status quo in the world of classical music.

Throughout her career, Waters continued to face discrimination and racism, but her perseverance and dedication to her craft made her an inspiration to many. Waters’ talent and artistry as a soprano helped her to break down racial barriers in the world of classical music. She retired from performing in the 1950s and later worked as a voice teacher. She passed away on February 2, 1973.

Nadine Roberts Waters’ legacy continues to inspire generations of musicians and music lovers, and she is remembered as a trailblazer who paved the way for future generations of black opera singers.

Learn more about Nadine Roberts Waters here: https://friendsofmusichall.org/2022/03/20/nadine-roberts-waters-la-cantatrice-de-cincinnati/


[Image of Nadine Roberts Waters published by Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library. Genealogy & Local History Department and from the Wyoming Historical Society (Ohio) https://digital.cincinnatilibrary.org/digital/collection/p16998coll58/id/0/rec/1 ]