Adele Addison is one of the great American vocal artists who appeared suddenly on the international scene in the 1950s and 1960s and was a major force in European commentators beginning to take the U.S. seriously for its role in developing first-rate musical talent. She was one of the best known of the several African-American singers who, following the example of Marian Anderson, shattered barriers and stereotypes in the concert world.
She learned to sing at a young age and won a scholarship to study at the Westminster Choir College. Continued scholarship awards enabled her to pursue further studies at Princeton University and at summer sessionis at the Berkshire Music School associated with the Tanglewood summer festival in Massachusetts. At Tanglewood she studied with Boris Goldovsky.
He recital debut was in Boston in 1948. Her New York debut was in 1952 at Town Hall, following a few years of further studies and vocal training with Povla Frisch.
She was invited to sing at the New York City Opera and the New England Opera. She preferred, however, to sing in recital and on the concert stage. She was chosen to sing the premiere of Lukas Foss' Time Cycle in 1961 with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, repeated the next week with Izler Solomon and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (heard by the instant writer). She had a memorably smooth, polished voice with exceptionally accurate pitch, great power, and warmth, all applied with evident intelligence and musicianship as well as a penchant for playing close attention to the words. (The cycle is in both English and German.) She also premiered the Gloria by Francis Poulenc in 1959.
A favorite artist of Bernstein's, she was invited to sing at the opening concert at the New York Philharmonic's new venue, Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fischer Hall) at Lincoln Center, New York, in 1962.
Her polished and fluent tone made her a desirable Baroque vocal artist. Among her recordings, her account of Bach's St. Matthew's Passion and Handel's Ode to St Cecilia are among her fans' favorites.