“Accomplishments have no color.” Some of you have questioned whether a person should really be considered an inventor is their accomplishment is success. When it comes to women, when one has accomplished something that breaks a gender stereotype, I think the answer is YES! These women not only accomplished something never before done by someone of their gender and in many instances, their race and/or color, they provided a path for others to walk and opened the door for the future successes of those who embarked on that path.
Earlier today I heard an excellent homily about listening to voices. Many times the mentally ill are characterized by “hearing voices” but in truth, we all hear them. Some are internal voices but often it is the voice of society that directs our path. We also listen to the voices of our supporters and, unfortunately, the voices of our critics garner our most intent attention as they appear to be the loudest.
The subject of the homily was that everyone matters and I would applaud that sentiment with a standing ovation. However, hearing another is only half of the communication process. If we only hear, success is not invented and communication has not occurred. We should not only hear but listen. Quoting from the University of Minnesota at Duluth student handbook: “Hearing is simply the act of perceiving sound by the ear. If you are not hearing-impaired, hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is something you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences. Listening leads to learning.
The difference in being “hard of listening” rather than “hard of hearing” involves respect. When we acknowledge someone’s accomplishments, as I am doing in this series on female inventors during the Easter season, we are showing them respect for not letting society’s voice about gender bias dictate our living. This blog is about reflection on our journey of life and I hope with this series to honor those who undertook bravely the steps that led to their successes and accomplishments. Some invented machines, some developed new processes, and others paved the way with their accomplishments for others to follow and perform tasks that were heretofore not available to them because of their gender.
A review in the New York Times described her voice as “vibrant”, “soaring” and “a Price beyond pearls”, … genuinely buttery, carefully produced but firmly under control”. The lyric soprano’s phrasing “took on a seductive sinuousness.” Time magazine characterized her voice “Rich, supple and shining, it was in its prime capable of effortlessly soaring from a smoky mezzo to the pure soprano gold of a perfectly spun high C.”
Born in Laurel Mississippi, Leontyne Price was one of the first women of her race and color to sing with the New York Metropolitan Opera and was the first to receive the same fee as the other top sopranos. She studied at a college in Ohio and at Julliard in New York but gained acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. “Accomplishments have no color”, the opening quote of this blog post, is one of her sayings.
Leontyne Price does not like the term “African-American and describes herself as a “chauvinistic American.” She sees herself as simply an American citizen. “If you are going to think black, think positive about it. Don’t think down on it, or think it is something in your way. And this way, when you really do want to stretch out, and express how beautiful black is, everybody will hear you.”
By doing what she loved and working at it. Leontyne Price not only found success, she opened the door for others to follow. “Art is the only thing you can’t push a button for. You must do it the old-fashioned way. There are no compromises.”
The Greenwich Village resident makes no apologies nor ever had any expectation of favors in her quest to be the best she could be. “Who I am is the best I can be. The ultimate of being successful is the luxury of giving yourself the time to do what you want to do.” Leontyne Price wanted to sing and she became one of the most accomplished lyric sopranos of all time.
Listening to the voice of Leontyne Price is not only a pleasure, it is also wisdom. Her invention of success for herself is a lesson for us all, if we will but respect and listen. “You should always know when you’re shifting gears in life. You should leave your era; it should never leave you.” Never fail to listen to what the world offer you to hear. Remember to respect others and yourself. Never let a voice sway you from being your very best. Success is an invention we can also accomplish. After all, accomplishments have no color or race or status or gender.