|Year of Birth:||1919|
|Year of Death:||2012|
Camilla Ella Williams (October 18, 1919 – January 29, 2012) was an American operatic soprano who performed nationally and internationally. After studying with renowned teachers in New York City, she was the first African American to receive a regular contract with a major American opera company, the New York City Opera. She had earlier won honors in vocal competitions and the Marian Anderson Fellowship in 1943–44.
In 1954 she became the first African American to sing a major role with the Vienna State Opera. She later also performed as a soloist with numerous European orchestras. As a concert artist, she toured throughout the United States as well as Asia, Australia and New Zealand. In 1977, she was the first African American appointed as Professor of Voice at Indiana University, where she taught until 1997.
On October 18, 1919, Camilla Ella Williams was born in Danville, Virginia, to Fannie Carey Williams, a laundress, and Cornelius Booker Williams, a chauffeur. She was the youngest of four children. Her siblings were Mary, Helen, and Cornelius. Williams grew up in a poor neighborhood with music as an important part of her family. Even her grandfather, Alexander Carey, was a choir leader and singer. Her parents instilled an appreciation for music, church, and education during her childhood. By the age of eight, Camilla enjoyed playing the piano, and singing at school and Danville's Calvary Baptist Church.