Demetrius Sampson, a sophomore in the Georgia State University School of Music from Conyers, GA, made his debut with The Atlanta Opera as Crabman in this spring’s passionate production of the grand American opera “Porgy and Bess.”
The Chorus Master at The Atlanta Opera, Rolando Salazar, approached Sampson’s voice teacher, Professor Kathyrn Hartgrove, in January of 2020, looking for potential singers for the “Porgy and Bess” production. In a whirlwind of events, Hartgrove recommended Sampson for the role; he auditioned, was cast, and began a series of rehearsals and performances while at the same time juggling his ongoing schoolwork. “It is rare to find a talent like Demetrious Sampson. He is an exceptional young man with a heart of gold, a skill to be envied, and the drive and determination one needs to succeed in his chosen field. His lessons are always full of discovery and accomplishment, and I am excited to have the opportunity to work with him,” exclaimed Ms. Hartgrove.
When choosing a university, he selected Georgia State because of the excellent opera program and faculty. In addition to Ms. Hartgrove, Sampson worked with professors and instructors, Carroll Freeman, Dr. Deanna Joseph, Dr. Jennifer Sengin, and Dr. Jonathan Crutchfield. They exposed him to not only technique but also scholarship opportunities and grants to assist in funding his education. Sampson is the first generation to attend college; his family was supportive of his selection of Georgia State and his pursuit of music.
Though Sampson grew up in a household with R&B, soul, and hip-hop music, as he grew older, he branched out into other genres like pop, acapella, and opera. When asked, “If you could sing any role, regardless of voice type, what would it be?” While his answer was surprising but was understandable as he chose one of the most famous of all opera arias, “The Queen of the Night” from “The Magic Flute,” memorable, fast-paced, and menacingly grandiose.
The advice Sampson had for young students starting in opera is “Vocal health; it is a priority. So is a great relationship with your vocal teacher, one who will push you and make you accountable. Patience is also crucial. You are growing as a vocalist, and it’s okay to make mistakes.”
Sampson is not the only panther in this Porgy and Bess production. We have alumni in the chorus! Stefayne Dunn, Shala Whitehead, Kayla Harriott, Amber Tittle, Chamblee Graham, and Antoine Griggs are part of this powerful ensemble.
Take a peek into chorus rehearsal for PORGY AND BESS, featuring “Oh, I Can’t Sit Down.” Music by George Gershwin, libretto by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin. Look out for Sampson twenty-seconds into rehearsal!
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