J’Nai Bridges, an American mezzo-soprano known for her deep, rich voice that has been described as “rich, dark and exciting”, has quickly established herself as one of opera’s rising stars. She has made waves among leading opera companies and concert stages worldwide.
She acknowledges the limited appeal of opera and has worked to change its perception in concert with leading discussions regarding inclusion and racial justice in classical music.
Early Life and Education
J’Nai Bridges dreamt of becoming a professional basketball player as she played as a child, yet instead pursued music as her dream career instead. Since then, her mezzo-soprano voice has taken off like never before!
She earned a master’s degree at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, and since has appeared in various operatic roles such as Dalila in Samson et Dalila, Carmen with Arena di Verona and Dutch National Opera, Margret in Wozzeck, and in Philip Glass’s Akhnaten production she will make her Metropolitan Opera debut as Queen Nefertiti.
She credits Denyce Graves, Shirley Verrett and Jessye Norman with being her source of inspiration. Currently she resides in Lakewood, Washington.
Classical music singers usually begin serious training while still in their pigtails and kneesocks, but mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges began training late due to her focus on becoming a professional basketball player until it fell through. At that point she focused more seriously on singing instead and has since established herself as one of the world’s most promising opera stars.
Opera News described her as a powerful mezzo-soprano with “a dark, rich sound that excites audiences,” performing at many of the world’s premier opera houses. Most recently she completed a three-year residency with Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center; additionally she represented her native US at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition as well as winning several prestigious awards such as Richard Tucker Career Grants, Marian Anderson Awards, Francisco Vijas International Competitions among many more.
Achievement and Honors
J’Nai Bridges is one of the world’s most celebrated mezzo-sopranos of her generation. Hailed for her “elegant voice which creates a blanket of plush sound” (Opera News) and ability to convey complex emotions onstage, she has graced some of the most important opera and concert stages worldwide.
Lakewood City Council honored Bridges at their January meeting, applauding her efforts both nationally and internationally.
Mezzo-soprano Claire Alston is currently finishing up a three-year residency at Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center and competing in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. In 2023 she will make her mainstage debuts at Teatro Lirico di Cagliari and Hamburg State Opera before making her way back to Metropolitan Opera for John Adams’ El Nino production.
J’Nai Bridges, two-time Grammy Award-winner and an American mezzo-soprano, can be seen performing around the globe on opera and concert stages. She’s an integral figure in classical music’s recent shift towards conversations of inclusion and racial justice; serving as a role model to young people alike.
Bridges was raised in Lakewood, Washington where she played basketball and attended choir lessons as a class. Although Bridges initially wanted to pursue basketball professionally, she eventually pursued opera instead.
J’Nai Bridges is an award-winning American mezzo-soprano who has performed for Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera and San Francisco Opera among many others. She received both Grammy and Marian Anderson awards – with BET referencing her as “The Beyonce of Opera”.
She is known for her “rich, dark, exciting sound” (Opera News) and charismatic stage presence, performing at world-renowned opera and concert houses while spearheading classical music’s transition towards inclusion and racial justice issues.
Recently, she collaborated with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic for an extraordinary rendition of “Heaven and the Whole World in Your Hand,” performed for a UNICEF benefit concert at Hollywood Bowl. Their remarkable performance was shared over 63,000 times on Instagram alone!