Artistic Director: J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark
J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark, Founder and Artistic Director of Opera Noir, was named an “Unsung Hero” in 2005 by KCET Television, a PBS Station in Los Angeles, California for her work with Opera Noir. The Classical Soprano and acclaimed Jazz Vocalist, founded Opera Noir in July of 1999 with the goal "to become to classical music what Dance Theatre of Harlem has been to ballet". Concerned by the lack of performing opportunities for classical artists of color, she founded Opera Noir to “promote cultural diversity in the classical arts”. Mrs. Smith-Clark is passionate in her belief that “the stage should reflect the world in which we live”.
J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark's artistic vision, and commitment to excellence, has enabled her to entertain, educate, and introduce new and gifted artists to a larger audience. Ms. Smith-Clark, and consequently Opera Noir, has excelled in the bold and unique approach to "presenting the Classical Arts from an ethnocentric perspective". This visionary artist embraces the musical influences of her upbringing in the African American church, and her experience as a much sought after Jazz Vocalist early in her career. As a result of Rosalynn's passionate advocacy for multiculturalism in the Arts, Opera Noir has been critically acclaimed, and has been embraced and supported by the funding community.
Legendary producer Clive Davis honored Opera Noir and the artistic vision of Ms. Smith-Clark when Mr. Davis served as the Honorary Chairperson for the Opera Noir 2003 Juneteenth Gala “Tribute To Luther Vandross”. J Records was also a sponsor for this concert performance that weaved classical music with the classic R & B that has garnered the late, Luther Vandross accolades as one of the greatest balladeers of our generation. Serving the Gala Tribute as both Artistic Director and Soloist, Ms. Smith-Clark commissioned a ballet tribute choreographed by legendary choreographer Donald McKayle to Mr. Vandross’ mega hit “A House Is Not A Home”.
Through her visionary leadership of Opera Noir, Rosalynn has enjoyed both artistic and production sponsorship and collaboration with such notable artists as Quincy Jones, Angela Bassett, Courtney Vance, Donald McKayle and Jubilant Sykes.
As a Classical Soprano, Ms. Smith-Clark possesses a full and rich, Lirico Spinto voice with simmering high notes and a lovely floating pianissimo that delights audiences. In addition to being blessed with a beautiful voice, Ms. Smith-Clark possesses a beautiful and commanding stage presence as well. Her recital program of Sacred Music, Spirituals, and Oratorio by treasured African American Poets and Writers, entitled "Then Sings My Soul" has received numerous accolades.
Her evening of Jazz and Cabaret, "The Ladies Who Sing With The Band" debuted at one of the Premier Jazz Supper Clubs in the United States, Yoshi's in Oakland, CA. This Jazz & Cabaret performance reflects Smith-Clark's passion and philosophy for celebrating the great and legendary ladies of Jazz like Billie Holiday, Nancy Wilson as well as contemporary "Neo-Soul" Singers. A recent performance in Pittsburgh, PA received rave reviews, and Ms. Smith-Clark's has been hailed as a "classy, sassy performer who owns the stage"!
Smith-Clark, who founded Opera Noir with a mission "to promote cultural diversity in the classical arts", fondly recalls her early years as a Jazz Vocalist, "I sang Jazz in one of the greatest Jazz cities, Pittsburgh, PA, for years to pay for my classical voice lessons. One of my most cherished memories was sitting in with the great Lionel Hampton Jazz Band in Dijon, while on tour in France with the prestigious Classical Heinz Chapel Choir". Ms. Smith-Clark credits her "ethnocentric" approach to the classical arts to such experiences, and her love and respect for the "contributions of artists of color to the cultural landscape".
J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark is a visionary artist, entrepreneur, evangelist, and advocate for people with special needs. Of her many accomplishments and accolades, she is grateful for the blessing of being a wife and a mother. Rosalynn is married to San Francisco Television News Anchor, Dave Clark. She and Dave have two children, Simonne Gabrielle, who graduated from The University of The Arts in Philadelphia with a BFA in Ballet, is currently pursuing a career as a professional performer. Son David Emmanuel also fuels their hearts and passion for serving special needs children and adults.
“I owe all that I have, and all that I am to the love of the Lord”
J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark