Named ‘Personality Of The Year,’ Georgia’s mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton set for busy November
Georgia icon Jamie Barton is a critically acclaimed American opera singer, known worldwide for her radiant mezzo-soprano voice. Throughout her career, Barton has used her voice to uplift women, members of the LGBTQ+ communities and other marginalized groups.
This past June, Barton was chosen as Personality of the Year for BBC Music Magazine’s annual awards. She also graces the cover of that issue with the headline “Voice of a Generation.”
As always, Barton is staying busy with three different events in November.
The first on Nov. 10 is “Mezzo Extravaganza,” and the second one is “Crossroads: A Variety Show” on Nov. 15. Both concerts are being put on by The Atlanta Opera. The final event is “Julia Child in Bon Appetit!” where Barton plays the larger-than-life role of Child herself.
Barton joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to talk about her career and her upcoming concerts.
Barton on using her voice for social change:
“Having different perspectives and inclusion in the arts and in life is just something that I’m really passionate about. And luckily, I have a team around me — my management, my publicist — who are all very supportive of that as well. I certainly don’t think I would have had the opportunity to use my voice in this kind of way without their help. But really, when it comes right down to it, I’m just speaking on something that I’m personally really passionate about. And I decided a couple of years ago that if I was going to be lucky enough to have a platform that I should use my voice for good. And so this is just a part of that.”
On preparing for her role as Julia Child:
“I really wanted to go back to the essential Julia Child. I went into my score, and I literally wrote in the inflections of her voice, how she pronounced things. She actually mispronounces ‘espresso.’ I’m convinced that the reason that so many people say ‘expresso’ is because that’s how she pronounced it. So when I see this role, and she says ‘add some instant expresso’, I say ‘expresso’ rather than ‘espresso.’ But I realized in putting it together with the original director that I worked with, Ned Canty, that really the idea of Julia is a composite of so many different actors.”
The difference between mezzos and sopranos:
“Sopranos and mezzos are very similar. It’s just that sopranos tend to sit a little higher. They have voices that one might describe as silvery or light. If you think of Dolly Parton, she is definitely a soprano. If you think of Alison Krauss, she’s also a soprano. Mezzos sit a little bit lower. Their voices are lower than sopranos, and my favorite descriptors for mezzos are velvety or chocolaty.”