Bright Future: Local singer honored to be named voice of Mississippi

Published 12:50 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016

By Sarah Bryan

NATCHEZ — Gabrielle Richardson may be one of the new voices of Mississippi, but the Rodney native’s dreams reach higher than any singing career.

Richardson recently excelled in the third-annual Voices of Mississippi competition. Hosted by the Mississippi Opera, the competition highlights musical and operatic talent in the state.  Singing alongside 30 other performers, Richardson earned honorable mention from the judges.

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The singer said the honor was exciting, but she tries not to judge her ability on awards and accolades.

Artistic and General Director of the Mississippi Opera Jay Dean said he sees great things ahead for Richardson. Dean is also the Artistic Director of the Natchez Festival of Music.

“She is an incredibly intelligent woman, a well-prepared singer, and she will surely succeed,” Dean  said.

For Richardson, her journey into the world of auditions, teaching, and shows started in Natchez.

“I had always thought opera was a big and serious thing, something almost mystical,” Richardson said.

Her thoughts changed when she was a little girl when her mother took her to see “Barber of Seville” at the Natchez Festival of Music.

She remembers one scene clearly.

“The scene where the police constable gets creamed in the face with a pie, I thought that was the funniest thing I had ever seen,” she said.

When her thoughts about opera changed, she was hooked.

Richardson carries that same fun-loving and energetic spirit in her own craft today, partnered with a deep empathy and compassion for the people around her.

She is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Mississippi, spending time teaching and mentoring other young singers.

Even still, Richardson’s ambitions extend past a degree or career.

“I always ask myself what kind of person do I want to be,” she said.

Richardson’s aspirations include a strong desire to be a mentor and inspiration for others.

“I want to be a light in the dark,” she said. “I grew up with a family that never saw dividing lines, a family where people would make deals on a handshake.”

Her family’s ability to see everyone as equals along with a group of string mentors push her to be just as inspiring to others.

“You never know what one kind word or one reference of respect will do for someone,” she said.

For others people pursuing a career in the arts, Richardson advises not to look back.

“You have to come to the realization that no path is set in stone,” she said. “It is never too late to do something else, if opera ever is less than what I want, I can walk away.”

Moving forward is necessary in life, Richardson said.

“You can look back but don’t stare back,” she said.

Richardson said she does not dwell on what could have been and abides by the personal mantra, “Hang on, grab on and go.”

That mantra came from her days of riding horses, and has stuck with her, she said.

“It’s a whirlwind, life,” Richardson said. “It can be a big crazy horse, and sometimes all you can do is grab on and go,” she said. “It’s going to be scary, and it’s going to be dangerous; that doesn’t mean that I am not going to do it.”