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Angela Scharfenberger
African American Arts Institute

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Last modified: Monday, April 24, 2006

Acclaimed vocalist Janet Williams to receive alumni award from IU African American Arts Institute

Janet Williams

Janet Williams

Print-Quality Photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Janet Williams, an Indiana University School of Music alumna who has delighted audiences and critics internationally, will return to Bloomington on Tuesday (April 25) to receive the IU African American Arts Institute's Herman C. Hudson Alumni Award.

Established last year as part of the AAAI's 30th anniversary celebration, the award, which is given annually, recognizes outstanding contributions made in the arts by former members of the institute.

Williams was a vocal coach for both the African American Choral Ensemble and the IU Soul Revue between 1984 and 1987. She also was a vocal instructor at the School of Music during this time, where she earned a master's degree in vocal performance, studying under the acclaimed soprano Camilla Williams.

About her Metropolitan Opera debut, the New York Post wrote, "'Irrepressible' is a word that hardly does her justice. Her first act entrance … floating a high pure phrase across the house, had that charge of electricity that immediately rivets attention, and her famous ballroom aria Mein Herr Marquis was delightfully saucy." Besides her time with the Met, Williams has also performed with the San Francisco Opera, the Berlin Philharmonic, and various orchestras throughout Europe and the United States, in addition to having a five-year fixed solo contract with the Berlin Staatsoper.

In many ways, Williams epitomizes the late Herman C. Hudson's vision for the AAAI. Hudson, founder of the Office of Afro-American Affairs and the Minority Achievers Program at IU Bloomington, believed the institute should strive for the highest levels of excellence in performance. Throughout its 31-year history, the institute has nurtured and developed the talents of students of diverse backgrounds who come to IU with varying artistic interests and experience.

Williams is one of many highly talented members of the institute who have gone on to successful careers in the arts -- some as ensemble members, others as management or artistic assistants who help shape the talents of other student performers.

As part of its mission, the institute exposes students to a wide range of musical styles, while giving them tools to be successful in the world of professional performance and beyond. Williams has not only enjoyed extensive success as a performer, but is widely sought after for her skills as an educator. She has developed her own company, Janet Williams -- Performance Enhancement by Design, which trains young professional opera singers through master classes and workshops in sharpening their mental and technical skills for auditions and optimal performance.

Her new e-book, Nail Your Next Audition, the Ultimate 30-Day Guide for Singers, was released in March and will be published as a book in May.

"Janet brought vibrancy and excellence to her performances and a professionalism to working with the students as a vocal coach," said Charles Sykes, executive director of the African American Arts Institute.

This fall, Williams will perform a recital tour in South America in addition to performing in Paris with the Drama Conservatoire, in Munich with Munchener Schlosszelt and in Berlin with Friedrichstadtpalast.

A large plaque engraved with Williams' name will be mounted on a wall in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

For more information on the AAAI, see For more info on Janet Williams, see