Jamie Barton is a current mezzo-soprano on the international rise in Opera. Barton grew up loving to sing and share bluegrass with her family. That love grew to exploring what else the music world had to offer. Cover Photo by Stacey Bode.
Jamie Barton: From Bluegrass to Opera
In celebration of Pride Month, we are happy to put the stage lights on Jamie Barton, a musician in the classical music industry and member of the LGBT community. Barton is a rising mezzo soprano who refined her craft right here in Indiana. Born in Rome, Georgia in 1981, Barton graduated from Armuchee High School in Armuchee, Georgia, attended Shorter College for undergraduate vocal studies, and attended Indiana University Jacobs School of Music for Graduate vocal studies. Growing up, Barton’s home life was filled with popular music ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd, to the Beatles, to bluegrass melodies sounding from the needle of a record player. When her teenage years hit and Barton wanted a change, she turned to music in a vastly different style from her family.
Barton’s musical tastes changed in high school as she began to focus on musicals and classical music. At home, Barton would join her family at pickin’-and-grinnin’ sessions in the mountains of Georgia. Here they gathered to play bluegrass instruments and sing. Barton was able to easily pick up melodies and harmonies from regularly listening to her father harmonize in church services growing up. In her free time though, she continued to fall more in love with classical music, commonly listening to Chopin’s Nocturn No. 21. Living in the mountains created something of two worlds for Barton. Alongside teaching boy scouts about woodcarving, leatherwork, and metalwork, Barton participated in musical theatre, choir and explored more classical music.
When Barton attended undergraduate school, she decided to focus on solo singing. Four years later, Barton joined Indiana University’s sea of around 48,500 students for Graduate School. Shifting out of the mountains and onto the stage, Barton is now leaving her impact on the classical world. This season, Barton toured Boston, NYC, Cincinnati, Myrtle Beach, and Birmingham, programming works by female composers. This same program will appear next season at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. as part of the Renée Fleming VOICES series.
Just as Jamie Barton’s voice pushes extraordinary boundaries, so does her musical programming. One topic Barton enjoys discussing is the expectations of whether a piece needs to necessarily be sung by a male or female solely based on the lyrics, breaking gender boundaries in the classical world. As well, Barton continues to enjoy music outside of the classical realm. Barton would love to work with artists of other genres, including Audra McDonald, Trent Reznor, Björk, Jason Robert Brown, and Chris Thile.
To experience Barton’s personality and musicianship firsthand, take a listen to her performance in Dvorak’s Opera Rusalka, Act 1, singing “Čury mury fuk” (“Abracadabra”). Barton plays Ježibaba, a witch, creating a potion to turn a water nymph into a human who will lose her voice and immortality for love. To see more, go to her website: http://www.jamiebartonmezzo.com/
Follow Jamie Barton on social media! On Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as: @jbartonmezzo