|Year of Birth:||1920|
|Year of Death:||2002|
William Caesar Warfield (22 January 1920 – 26 August 2002), was an American concert bass-baritone singer and actor. One of his earliest professional engagements was in Marc Blitzstein's Broadway opera, Regina. His breakthrough came when he gave his recital debut in New York's Town Hall in 1950. He went on to produce a highly acclaimed album of selections from Porgy and Bess with Leontyne Price in 1963.
Warfield was born in West Helena, Arkansas, the oldest of five sons of a Baptist minister. He grew up in Rochester, New York, where his father was called to serve as pastor of Mt. Vernon Church. He gave his recital debut in New York's Town Hall on 19 March 1950. He was quickly invited by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to tour Australia and give 35 concerts. In 1952, Warfield performed in Porgy and Bess during a tour of Europe sponsored by the U.S. State Department (he made six separate tours for the US Department of State, more than any other American solo artist.) In this production he played opposite the opera star Leontyne Price, whom he soon married, but the demands of two separate careers left them little time together. They divorced in 1972, but were featured together in a 1963 studio recording of excerpts from Porgy and Bess.
According to a recent exhibit about World War Two, Warfield was the only African American member of the "Ritchie Boys", thousands of soldiers who were trained at Fort Ritchie, Maryland. It was an intelligence center where hundreds of Jewish recruits who fled Nazi Germany for the United States were trained to interrogate their one-time countrymen. According to the exhibit at the Zekelman Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Warfield was brought to the camp because of his strong German skills which he perfected while studying music. Because of segregation, his skills were never put to use.