|Year of Birth:||1948|
Kathleen Deanna Battle (born August 13, 1948) is an American operatic soprano known for her distinctive vocal range and tone. Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, Battle initially became known for her work within the concert repertoire through performances with major orchestras during the early and mid-1970s. She made her opera debut in 1975. Battle expanded her repertoire into lyric soprano and coloratura soprano roles during the 1980s and early 1990s until her eventual dismissal from the Metropolitan Opera in 1994. After a 22-year absence from the Met, Battle performed a concert of spirituals at the Metropolitan Opera House in November 2016.
Battle was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, US, the youngest of seven children. Her father was a steelworker, and her mother was an active participant in the gospel music of the family's African Methodist Episcopal church. Battle attended Portsmouth High School where her music teacher and mentor was Charles P. (Phil) Varney. In a 1985 Time Magazine interview, Varney recalled the first time he heard the eight-year-old Battle sing, describing her as "this tiny little thing singing so beautifully." "I went to her later", Varney recalled, "and told her God had blessed her, and she must always sing." In that same interview, music critic Michael Walsh described Battle as "the best lyric coloratura in the world".
Battle was awarded a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where she studied voice with Franklin Bens and also worked with Italo Tajo. She majored in music education, and proceeded to a master's degree in Music Education. In 1971 she began a teaching career at an inner-city public school in Cincinnati, continuing to study voice privately while teaching 5th and 6th grade music. Later, she studied singing with Daniel Ferro in New York.