Sir Willard White, CBE, OM, with Governor General of Jamaica at Awards Ceremony at Kings House
Sir Willard White, CBE, receives OM from Governor General of Jamaica
Sir Willard Wentworth White, OM, CBE Patron of Music Unites Jamaica Foundation
Widely considered one of the greatest singers of his generation, Jamaican-born bass-baritone Willard White made his professional operatic debut with New York City Opera, where he played the character of Colline in La Bohème in 1974. His European debut was with Welsh National Opera in Cardiff, Wales, where he played Osmin in Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio in 1974. He has since gone on to perform in the world's major opera houses and his powerful voice and commanding stage presence have made him a popular and admired singer across a wide range of musical styles. White is best known for performing as Mephistopheles in The Damnation of Faust, a role he has played many times. Besides the traditional classical repertoire he is celebrated for his performances as Porgy in Porgy and Bess. White was honored as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1995 and received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2004. Willard White was born on October 10, 1946, in St. Catherine, Jamaica, the son of a dockworker, Egbert, and Gertrude White. His supportive but non-musical family recognized his talent and White attended the Jamaican School of Music before moving to New York and the Juiliard School, where he studied with Maria Callas. He married Gillian Jackson in 1974 and they have three sons and a daughter; he also has three children from his second marriage. White made his first professional appearances in 1974 when he performed with the New York City Opera in La Bohème, and with Welsh National Opera, playing Osmin on Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio. In 1976 he performed for the first time with English National Opera and also made his first appearance at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1978 as the Speaker in The Magic Flute; he returned to Glyndebourne in 1986 as Porgy in George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.