Song:You'll Never Walk Alone
Album:Carousel: 1994 Broadway Cast Recording
Shirley Verrett was a pioneering black opera singer. This 1994 revival of Carousel was the only time she appeared on Broadway. She was born May 31, 1931 in New Orleans and she grew up in los Angeles. She sang in church but her family were devout Seventh Day Adventists. So a singing career was not encouraged. Shirley moved to New York to study at Juilliard. By the early 60s she was appearing regularly in New York City opera productions. In 1962, Shirley appeared in the first ever televised Lincoln Center concert. And she also appeared in Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concert series. She debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 1968 and at La Scala in 1969. So obviously she was very successful for many years. In 1992, director Nicholas Hytner produced a revival of Carousel in London. After that was successful, he brought it to Broadway. One notable thing was this was Audra McDonald's Broadway debut for which she won a Tony. Shirley played Nettie and of course her big number was You'll Never Walk Alone. The show won five Tonys and after a successful run, Hytner took it on the road. It was not only Shirley's only Broadway appearance but her only non-operatic appearance. The original cast of Carousel is available as a budget CD. After that, Shirley retired from performing and joined the University of Mischigan faculty. She published her autobiography in 2003. Shirley Verrett died of heart failure on Nov. 5, 2010 at age 79. Here's Shirley Verrett performing You'll Never Walk Alone on the 1994 Tony Awards broadcast.