Nadine Sierra’s clever selection of old and new songs from North and South America for her Deutsche Grammophon and Decca Gold debut album, expresses a love of connecting people, no matter their backgrounds or beliefs, reflects on her family history and portrays America’s musical versatility.
Nadine Sierra is one of the top young opera singers of our time. The American soprano, celebrated by critics and audiences alike for her performances at the world’s largest opera houses, recently won the Beverly Sills Artist Award 2018 for young singers at the Metropolitan Opera. For her debut album with Deutsche Grammophon and Decca, There’s a Place for Us, Sierra worked with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Robert Spano to create a multi-layered album that proves her to be a confident and modern young artist who not only wants to make an impression musically, but also wants to stimulate the audience to reflect on the beauty of the music as well as content.
When asked about the album in a recent interview, she commented: ‘I always knew that on my first album, I didn’t want to just create something that was like, “here are ten arias that I’ve done in my life and here’s a pretty picture of me on the cover and that’s it!”
‘Anything that I do, anything that I produce – if it’s an album, a concert or a recital – I have control over… So, I always wanted the album to be a project that was more about how being an artist can affect a bigger message. If there’s something that’s happening in another person’s life or in society or the community, I try to address that through art. All over the world, music is something that has been used as a form of protest or as a thing catering to a more powerful message than just itself alone.
‘There’s a Place for Us is an album that I wanted to create to, yes, show myself as an artist. But with the things that we’ve been presented with in today’s world, especially in this country (America) – with certain messages being sent out into people’s ears – I wanted to just give people who listen to it a little bit of hope. I wanted them to know that if they do feel neglected by certain individuals, or if they feel shunned and ashamed by certain people who have great responsibilities and leadership in this world, that they’re not alone.
‘I too understand what it is to be singled out… My mother is from Lisbon and my father’s side of the family also came from elsewhere. As we all did. My grandfather basically swam here from Puerto Rico. So, I just wanted to send out a message that no matter what the dilemmas we’re facing today are, there will always be, at the end of the day, a place for everybody.
‘Leonard Bernstein was an advocate for that as well. He was actually a person, especially in the 1950s and ‘60s, who was not liked politically. He was a social activist who used pieces of music to talk about those things. He wanted to make people actually discuss those issues after listening to his music and he wasn’t afraid of that. That’s how I want to be as an artist. I don’t just want to show a certain kind of surface façade. I want to show everything else behind that. Because to me, it means something and I’d rather be that way than the opposite.’