Cabarrus

Kannapolis tenor shares a name with opera greats

Life has come full-circle for Kannapolis native David Hamilton. Raised on Nance Street behind the Kentucky Fried Chicken, Hamilton attended A.L. Brown High School, made a career as an operatic singer, then returned to his alma mater as the new choir director.
Life has come full-circle for Kannapolis native David Hamilton. Raised on Nance Street behind the Kentucky Fried Chicken, Hamilton attended A.L. Brown High School, made a career as an operatic singer, then returned to his alma mater as the new choir director. COURTESY OF DAVID HAMILTON

There’s something about the name David Hamilton that ups the chances of having a world-famous set of tenor pipes that audiences consider a gift from God.

There’s David Hamilton, the Australian operatic tenor who accompanies world-renowned orchestras throughout Europe.

There’s David Hamilton, the Minnesotan operatic tenor who tours with all the big-name opera companies in the U.S.

Then there’s David Hamilton, the Kannapolis-born operatic tenor who has played major roles in productions from Italy to Israel, Boston to Anchorage.

“It’s weird, isn’t it?” said the latter Hamilton, 37, of the high volume of David Hamiltons who have etched out successful careers as operatic tenors. To ease the confusion, Hamilton took his father’s first name, Broadus, as his professional name.

Like the others, Hamilton studied with the masters and toured with the major players of opera, but in July of 2014 he gave it up to take a gig as the choir director at A.L. Brown High School, his alma mater.

“I wanted some stability for my family, and this job came open,” said Hamilton, who moved into an old Victorian home in Landis with his wife, Amy, and four kids. He also serves as director of music at First Presbyterian Church in Kannapolis.

But the need for stability wasn’t the only reason Hamilton returned to his roots. He also felt a pull to give back to the community that first convinced him he could make a career with his voice.

“We are lucky to have him back in this area. I’ve always believed in blooming where you’re planted,” said Betty Williams, a voice teacher who gave Hamilton lessons in the late 1990s and early 2000s. “He has one of the most absolutely glorious sounds in his voice. It’s just God-given, that’s all.”

After attending Brown for two years, Hamilton transferred to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. After graduation there, he earned a bachelor’s degree in voice performance from UNC Greensboro, then a master’s degree in voice performance from The Boston Conservatory.

Roles in “The Rape of Lucretia,” “Madama Butterfly,” and “The Magic Flute” followed.

Singing opera wasn’t the kind of career Hamilton envisioned for himself in high school.

“I rejected wanting to do classical music at first. I wanted to be a country singer,” he said. “Classical singing was foreign to me. I wasn’t used to it or exposed to it.”

That notion changed the more he became familiar with it, and he hopes, as the new choir director, he can introduce students to the joys of classical singing.

“I’m committed to building this program up,” he said. “I want to hear them doing excellent choral music at a very high level.”

Those interested can hear Hamilton’s voice at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 when he performs “Ain’t That a Witness! A Concert of African-American Art Songs and Spirituals.” The performance will be at First Presbyterian Church in Kannapolis, 201 Vance St. It’s free, open to the public, and showcases art songs from classical African-American composers.

Lisa Thornton is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Lisa? Email her at lisathornton@carolina.rr.com.

Want to go?

“Ain’t That a Witness! A Concert of African-American Art Songs and Spirituals” will be 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at First Presbyterian Church, 201 Vance St., Kannapolis.

Featuring Kannapolis native David Hamilton, tenor; LeSondra Brown, soprano; Jason McKinney, baritone; and Carol Soles, piano. Free and open to the public

For information, email davidhamilton@firstpresb.org

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