|Year of Birth:||1932|
Reri Grist (born February 29, 1932) is an American coloratura soprano, one of the pioneer African-American singers to enjoy a major international career in opera.
Reri Grist was born in New York City, grew up in the East River Housing Projects, attended the High School of Music & Art, majored in voice and graduated with a BA in Music from Queens College, City Univ. of New York. In her early teens she performed on Broadway in small roles with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, including Robert Ardrey's 1946 play Jeb; with Lawrence Tibbett; and in musicals with Eartha Kitt, while taking voice lessons with her teacher, Claire Gelda. Her first opera engagement was as Madame Herz in a concert performance of Mozart's Der Schauspieldirektor. Her first staged "operatic" engagement was in 1956 as Cindy Lou (Micaela) in Carmen Jones, Oscar Hammerstein's adaptation of Bizet's Carmen. She was Consuelo in the original production of Leonard Bernstein's musical West Side Story in 1957, introducing the song "Somewhere" to the public. One of her earliest breakthroughs in classical music came in 1960 when Bernstein engaged her to sing the soprano part in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 in G major with the New York Philharmonic in a Young People's Concert at Carnegie Hall. In following years, Grist appeared with the orchestra under the batons of Bernstein, Nadia Boulanger, Pierre Boulez and Michael Gielen.