Kenneth Overton is lauded for blending his opulent baritone with magnetic and varied portrayals that seemingly “emanate from deep within body and soul.”
Raised in Philadelphia, Kenneth Overton’s symphonious baritone voice has sent him around the globe. Kenneth is one of the most sought after Opera singers of his generation, and successfully started his season with a return to The New York City Opera performing the role of Jake Wallace in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West . Shortly thereafter, he returned to the San Francisco Opera in "the most eagerly anticipated new opera of the season" (The New York Times, 2017); the world premier of John Adams’ The Girls of the Golden West, as the cover for the role of Ned Peters. Additionally, Kenneth thrived in his Hungarian debut as Porgy in the Margaret Island Open Air Theatre’s production of Porgy and Bess where he was heralded as one of “America’s most renowned Opera singers”.
Alongside the New England Symphonic Ensemble, Kenneth took Carnegie Hall by storm this season in his soloist performances of Faure’s Requiem and the New York Premier of Michael John Trotta’s Seven Last Words of Christ with Mid America Productions. In addition, he returned to David Geffen Hall with the National Chorale in Mozart’s Requiem, and Vesperae Solennes de Confessore. He also starred in the significant World Premier of Upon This Handful of Earth by Norwegian Composer Gisle Kverndokk, commissioned by the New York Opera Society.
Kenneth's ever blossoming career has allowed him to perform with some of the most prestigious Opera Companies and Orchestral Organizations in the world, highlights include his 2017 New York Philharmonic debut, and his San Francisco Opera debut as Lawyer Frazier in Porgy and Bess and a return to the company as Sid in La Fanciulla del West. As a leading baritone, Kenneth has performed with Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, Opera Memphis, Sacramento Opera, Nashville Opera, Connecticut Opera, Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Boheme Opera of NJ, Houston Ebony Opera Guild, Toledo Opera, Opera Delaware, Shreveport Opera, Opera Tampa, and Opera Carolina. Kenneth has been seen as Germont in La Traviata, Michele in Il Tabarro, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Marcello and Schaunard in La bohème, Ping in Turandot, Angelotti in Tosca, as well as Bello and Sid in La Fancuilla del West.
Kenneth’s interpretation of the title role in Porgy and Bess has been proclaimed as “breathtaking.” He has performed the role over 100 times at international houses such as the Deutsche Oper Berlin in the critically-acclaimed production from South Africa’s Cape Town Opera, Palacio Bellas Artes in Mexico City, L’Opera Montreal, and he triumphed in Tony Award Winning Director John Doyle’s new staging for The Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen and debuted the role at various houses on tour throughout the British Isles. Kenneth has also portrayed Porgy in concert with the Traverse City Symphony, the Springfield Symphony, the National Chorale at David Geffen Hall - Lincoln Center, the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, the Paducha Symphony, the Richmond Symphony, the Sopot Festival in Poland, and the Klangvokal Festival in Dortmund. Kenneth has also sung Porgy on stage in the USA at Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Opera Memphis, Opera Carolina, and the Lexington Opera Society.
Kenneth is widely recognized for his concert work, having performed as soloist with Phoenix Symphony, Norwalk Symphony, National Chorale, Harlem Chamber Players, Duluth Superior Symphony, Tacoma Symphony, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Yonkers Philharmonic, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Oratorio Society of New Jersey, Lexington Philharmonic, Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, Mineola Choral Society, Summit Chorale Festival, New York City Opera's Schomberg Series, Sarasota Symphony, and San Antonio Symphony. His concert and oratorio repertoire includes Faure’s Requiem, Durufle’s Requiem, Handel's Messiah, Verdi's Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, Coronation Mass and Vesperae Solennes de Confessore, Christmas Oratorio (Saint-Saëns), Mendelssohn's Elijah, Brahms' Ein Deutches Requiem, Vaughn Williams' A Sea Symphony, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Schubert's Mass in A-flat, Dvorak’s Te Deum, Bruckner’s Te Deum, Haydn's Creation and Vaughan Williams' Five Mystical Songs. Kenneth is also regularly featured with the American Spiritual Ensemble as a soloist for annual performances in the USA and abroad.
Kenneth’s versatile acting and singing abilities have allowed him to continue his passion for musical theater and new works. He made his Operatic Broadway debut in Baz Luhrmann's La Boheme. He triumphantly portrayed Joe in Showboat and Judge Turpin in Sweeny Todd for the Pensacola Opera, and excelled in the diverse contemporary works, Corps of Discovery by Michael Ching and The Widow’s Lantern by David Ott. In 2018, Kenneth will debut the role of Yeshua in the World Premier of Richard Danielpour’s, The Passion of Yeshua at the Oregon Bach Festival. The busy young baritone will also return to Lincoln Center for the New York Premier of Angela Rice’s Thy Will Be Done, with the National Chorale. He continues his season with the role of historical figure and civil rights leader, Ralph Abernathy in the World Premier of Douglas Tappin’s Rhythm and Blues Opera, I DREAM, with Opera Grand Rapids, Toledo Opera, and Opera Carolina.
Pride and tradition portray the motif of Kenneth’s debut solo album Been In De Storm So Long: Songs My Fathers Taught Me, his homage to the spiritual tradition that has been formative in his artistic life. Pianist Kevin Miller and Kenneth’s collaboration embody the historic Spirituals from our past and contemporary art songs by African American Composers, giving them a new life of their own. Amidst performing, Kenneth serves as co-founder and artistic director of Opera Noire of New York, a performing arts organization created to empower African-American artists to reach their full creative potential in a creative supportive environment.
In collaboration with pianist Kevin Miller, Kenneth released his first solo CD in the fall of 2013. Been In De Storm So Long: Songs My Fathers Taught Me, is his homage to the spiritual tradition that has been formative in his artistic life. In step with this legacy, Kenneth is also co-founder and artistic director of Opera Noire of New York, a performing arts organization created to empower African-American artists to reach their full creative potential in a creative supportive environment.
Career highlights include Kenneth’s San Francisco Opera debut as Lawyer Frazier with in Porgy and Bess and Germont (La Traviata) with Sacramento Opera and Boheme Opera (NJ). As a leading baritone, Kenneth has sung with Opera Memphis, Nashville Opera, Connecticut Opera, Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Boheme Opera of NJ, Houston Ebony Opera Guild, Opera Delaware, Sacramento Opera and Opera Carolina. His roles with these companies include Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Sharpless (MadamaButterfly), Leporello (Don Giovanni), Schaunard (La bohème), Ping (Turandot) as well as Angelotti (Tosca), Bello and Sid (La Fancuilla del West).
Kenneth’s interpretation of the title role in Porgy and Bess has been acclaimed as “breathtaking.” He made his international debut at Deutsche Oper Berlin in the critically-acclaimed production from South Africa’s Cape Town Opera. Kenneth portrayed Porgy with Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Opera Memphis, Opera Carolina, Lexington Opera Society, the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, the Paducha Symphony and on tour throughout the British Isles. As Jake in Porgy and Bess, he performed at Stadttheater Klagenfurt and Princeton Opera Festival. In 2014, he debuts with Opera de Montreal and the Royal Danish Opera as Porgy.
Kenneth is widely recognized for his concert work, having performed with Phoenix Symphony, Norwalk Symphony, Montclair State University, New Jersey’s Cathedral Basilica, Duluth Superior Symphony, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Yonkers Philharmonic, Oratorio Society of New Jersey, Summit Chorale Festival (NJ), New York City Opera’s Schomberg Series, Sarasota Symphony, San Antonio Symphony and Richmond Symphony. His concert and oratorio repertoire includes Handel’s Messiah, Verdi’s Requiem, Vaughn Williams’ A Sea Symphony, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Schubert’s Mass in A-flat, Haydn’s Creation and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs. Kenneth is also featured in the American Spiritual Ensemble as a soloist for annual performances in the USA and international tours of Spain, Ecuador and France.
Kenneth has a passion for both musical theater and new works, and he made his Broadway debut in Baz Luhrman’s La Bohème. He was featured in City Center Encores’ production and recording of Romberg’s The New Moon, and sang the role of Stephen Kumalo in Lost in the Stars with Skylark Opera. His Carnegie Hall debut was as the baritone soloist in Come Follow Me by Jackson Berkey with the Westfield Symphony Orchestra (Mid-America Productions). Kenneth has also excelled in diverse contemporary works including performances of Corps of Discovery by Michael Ching at Opera Festival of New Jersey; Six Characters in Search of An Author by Hugo Weisgall; and The Gilded Cage by Kioulaphides with Nexus Arts (NY).
Kenneth is a winner of the Liederkranz Competition, Connecticut Opera Guild Competition, Rosa Ponselle Competition (Meriden, CT) and a national winner of the Leontyne Price Vocal Competition.