October 8 & 9 – Alfreda Burke and Rodrick Dixon

This engagement is supported by the Arts Midwest GIG Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Michigan Arts and Culture Council.

Rodrick Dixon and Alfreda Burke

Alfreda Burke and Rod Dixon have presented secular and sacred recitals across the country. They have designed a sacred music program that presents German Lieder, French Chansons, Italian art songs, Operatic arias, duets, American art songs, Spirituals, Hymns, Broadway music and popular music. They weave Biblical stories, scriptures and personal experiences from Television, appearances with Opera companies, Symphonies and Concerts into an evening filled with music and laughter.

Alfreda Burke & Rodrick Dixon are very pleased and honored to have their bios and interviews included in the archives of The HistoryMakers and be a permanent part of their collection at the Library of Congress. See more at www.thehistorymakers.com

Alfreda Burke

Alfreda Burke’s vocal artistry has been described as “voluptuous, creamy and luxuriant” (Chicago Tribune). She has appeared in concert throughout North America and in Europe. Ms. Burke made her Carnegie and Orchestra Hall debuts in Strauss’ Elektra with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Daniel Barenboim. Highlighted performances include the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia under Erich Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Opera Theatre/DSO/Rackham Choir, Royal Philharmonic (London), Prague Philharmonic, Umbria Music Festival (Italy), TodiMusicFest (US), Miss World 2012, 2014, 2016, 2021 (China, UK, US, Puerto Rico); Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, Miss World Beauty With A Purpose and Rise Against Hunger events, Gala (South Africa 2017); Humanity Rising: Notre-Dame Reborn virtual Gala; Sentinel of the Sea Award Virtual Celebration honoring Gary Sinise; Holders Season Gala (Barbados), Lancaster Festival, Corrales Cultural Arts Council (New Mexico), Grant Park Music Festival, Millennium Park Gala, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Kennedy Center, Auditorium Theatre, Auditorium Theatre 125 Living the History, Orpheum Theatre (Memphis), Chicago Opera Theater, Chorus Angelorum, Chicagoland Pops Orchestra, Siamsa na nGael and NATO Chicago Summit, among others. Ms. Burke filmed Prague PBS special, Hallelujah Broadway (Mind the Gap Films, Dublin) and recorded it on EMI/Manhattan Records label (Czech National Symphony Orchestra Studios, Prague). Ms. Burke and Rodrick Dixon were featured in PBS Great Performances Now Hear This “Florence Price and the American Migration” (2022). Alfreda Burke and Rodrick Dixon sang in the historical Mayoral Inauguration of The Honorable Lori E. Lightfoot (Chicago’s Wintrust Arena, 2019). She is honored to be a HistoryMaker and a permanent part of their collection at the Library of Congress.

Ms. Burke’s oratorio, opera, concert and musical theater engagements include the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts broadcast on WFMT-FM; Mozart Requiem, Mass in C Minor, Coronation Mass in C Major; Handel’s Messiah; Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Beethoven’s Mass in C; Poulenc Gloria; Schubert’s Mass in G; Mahler 2nd & 8th Symphonies; Strauss’ Elektra; Puccini’s Turandot (Liu); Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta; Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915; Menotti’s Amahl & the Night Visitors; Rutter Requiem; Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem; Boulez’s Le Visage Nuptial under baton of Pierre Boulez; Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess; Lokumbe’s Crucifixion Resurrection; Bernstein’s West Side Story; Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar (Mary Magdalene); Christianson & Anderson’s Too Hot to Handel; Kern’s Show Boat (Kennedy Center/National Tour, Auditorium Theatre with her son, Dean), directed by Harold ‘Hal’ Prince. A cycle of Paul Laurence Dunbar songs was written for Ms. Burke by Dr. Edward Hart, College of Charleston (2015); and spiritual settings arranged for her by Belford Hernandez (2017). She was featured in Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Symphony Center Inaugural Festival and Radiothon. She sang for Francis Cardinal George, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich and the Office for Immigrant Affairs’ Keep Hope Alive Benefit.

Ms. Burke’s work in recordings, music video, television, radio, film and commercials includes: soprano vocalist in Dawa movies (LA) soundtrack featuring Ramsey Lewis, Maestro James Mack and members of the CSO; Bobby Lewis release; Celine Dion and R. Kelly’s I’m Your Angel video; numerous classical/crossover, sacred/secular profiles and broadcasts; films include The Visit, The Visitors, Unconditional Love, U.S. Marshals. Ms. Burke has made guest soloist appearances on the WTTW/Odyssey broadcast of 30 Good Minutes. She has performed the National Anthem for the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Fire.

Alfreda Burke received rave reviews for a Community Concerts national tour and Following in the Footsteps concert with Tenor Rodrick Dixon. “Dixon and Burke sang with such deep and knowing pathos that the audience was kept in rapt silence until the end of the set. …Then Burke keened the achingly beautiful ‘Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child’… ” Ms. Burke’s discography includes solo debut CD, From the Heart; Hallelujah Broadway (EMI/Manhattan Records). She recorded, performed the Chicago Olympic 2016 Bid Anthem, I Will Stand (Millennium Park Gala) and served on the Arts & Culture Advisory Council. Burke’s Negro Mother performance with the Michael Teolis Singers is archived in the Margaret Herrick Library (the main repository of print, graphic, research materials of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Recent and upcoming engagements include productions of Too Hot to Handel at the Michigan Opera Theatre/DSO/Rackham Choir (18 yrs.) and Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre (15 yrs.), where production is livestreamed to prisons across the country, thanks to Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church and Auditorium Theatre; Orpheum Theatre (Memphis); Variety Children’s Charity Telethon; Tuba Bach Festival; Hannibal Lokumbe’s Crucifixion Resurrection; the Royal Philharmonic (London); Auditorium Theatre & DiBurke, Inc. co-produced duo show, livestreamed Holiday Concert and CD release; livestreamed At Home with the Auditorium, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks virtual tour 2020, Ravinia TV; Humanity Rising: Notre-Dame Reborn virtual Gala benefitting the rebuilding and restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral; Sentinel of the Sea Award Virtual Celebration honoring Gary Sinise; PBS Great Performances Now Hear This “Florence Price and the American Migration” (2022); Peoria Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Burke received Master and Bachelor of Music degrees from Roosevelt University; served as Alumna Ambassador for RU’s 60th Anniversary; serves on the RU CCPA Advisory Board (since 2010), Community Engagement Committee Chair (2018-2020); served on the Auditorium Theatre 125th Anniversary Season Committee.

Rodrick Dixon

Rodrick Dixon possesses a tenor voice of extraordinary range and versatility that has earned him the respect and attention of leading conductors, orchestras, and opera companies.

Notable operatic engagements include Los Angeles Opera in the title role of Zemlinky’s Der Zwerg conducted by James Conlon and as Walther von der Vogelweide in Tannhauser. At Michigan Opera Theater and Todi Music Festival, Dixon appeared as Tonio in La Fille Du Regiment. He also appeared as Lenski in Todi’s production of Eugene Onegin . At Portland Opera, he performed the title role of Les Contes d’Hoffmann; Prince in Opera Columbus premiere of Vanqui ; Sportin’ Life in Virginia Opera’s Porgy & Bess; the Duke in Rigoletto for Cincinnati Opera; and Opera Southwest in the title role of Rossini’s Otello.

On the concert stage, Rodrick Dixon is a regular guest of the Cincinnati May Festival, where he has performed Orff’s Carmina Burana, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass, Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Rachmaninoff’s The Bells, Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses in Cincinnati and in New York’s Carnegie Hall. Other notable appearances include Los Angeles Philharmonic in the title role of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and directed by Peter Sellars. He reprised the role in the same production for the Sydney Arts Festival in Australia, directed by Mr. Sellars. His Ravinia Festival credits include The Bells and Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied. For Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center, Dixon appeared as Sportin’ Life in Robert Russell Bennett’s suite of music from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, conducted by Robert Porco.

Other debuts include the Atlanta Symphony honoring Martin Luther King Jr. conducted by Robert Spano; the Vail Music Festival as tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony conducted by Marin Alsop and The Longfellow Chorus documentary based on the composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Mr. Dixon made his Choral Arts Society of Music debut as the Celebrant in Bernstein’s Mass performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He returned to Carnegie Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra as tenor soloist in Delius’ A Mass of Life and to the Cincinnati May Festival as featured soloist in a new work by Alvin Singleton. He has also appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center as tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Hannibal Lokumbe’s One Land, One River, One People. At St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Robertson and RAI National Symphony in Torino, Italy, conducted by James Conlon, Dixon made his Der Fliegende Holländer debut as Erik.

He was the tenor soloist for the Philadelphia Orchestra composer in residence, Hannibal Lokumbe, world premieres of Healing Tones and One Land, One River, One People, conducted by Yannick Nézet Séguin. He also performed in Lokumbe’s historic work Crucifixion Resurrection presented by the orchestra, honoring the nine church members who lost their lives during bible study in Charleston, SC. Recent notable engagements include the Cincinnati Symphony Beethoven Symphony No. 9 conducted by Louis Langree; the Madison Symphony Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass conducted by John DeMain; the Colorado Symphony and Sao Paolo State Symphony Orchestra in Brazil performances of Too Hot to Handel conducted by Marin Alsop. Future engagements include tenor soloist appearances in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin; and Florida Orchestra conducted by Michael Francis. Dixon makes his Greensboro Symphony and Richmond Symphony debuts in the Beethoven Symphony No. 9 and reprises the title role of Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg for his Enescu Festival debut in Romania.

Other orchestras with whom Mr. Dixon has appeared, include the Atlanta Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, Pittsburgh Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Charleston Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Millennium Park, Elgin Symphony and the Concordia Orchestra at Lincoln Center. He appeared with Trilogy Opera and the Colour of Music Festival celebrating African American Composers. A gifted recitalist, Dixon earned rave reviews for his Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert broadcast honoring Roland Hayes on WFMT-FM/Chicago. He has also presented pre-concert recitals at the Cincinnati May Festival; completed a 30-city tour for Community Concerts as well as a duet concert “Following in the Footsteps” at Hampton University with soprano Alfreda Burke; with whom he has also appeared in duet recitals for the Umbria Music Festival in Italy, Anchorage, Los Angeles, Washington (D.C.), Tennessee, Detroit, Toronto, Dayton and Chicago.

Mr. Dixon’s extensive television credits include: Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party VH1 (2017); Freedom Awards National Civil Rights Museum (2017); Noel, Noel Christmas Show Fox 13 (2017); Variety Children’s Charity TV show honoring CEO Julia Morley of Miss World in London (2016); Miss World Pageant in Washington, D.C. at the MGM (2016); Ordos, China (2012); An Evening with Vernon Jordan/HistoryMakers WETA, PBS (2014); the Variety Children’s Charity telethon in Des Moines, Iowa (2012 – present); The US Air Force 60th Anniversary Musical Celebration (2007); Cook, Dixon & Young Vol. 1 PBS Great Performances (2005); Washington Opera Gala at Constitution Hall (2003); The Mark Twain Awards Honoring Whoopi Goldberg at Kennedy Center (2002); Three Mo’ Tenors PBS Great Performances (2001) and My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs at City Center (2000). Other TV appearances include: The Tavis Smiley Show on PBS/NPR (2006); The Jerry Lewis Telethon (2002-2003); Marshall Field’s Christmas Commercials (2002); TV One’s Christmas Specials (2006/07); WGN’s A Christmas Glory (2003 and 2006); The Tony Awards (1998); NBC’s Today Show; Good Morning America; The Rosie O’Donnell Show (2002); and The Wayne Brady Show.

Rodrick Dixon’s musical theater and other theatrical concert credits include the original cast of Ragtime on Broadway/Chicago/Toronto, Show Boat at the Auditorium Theatre, Pops Concerts at Grant Park Music Festival, Chicagoland Pops Orchestra at the Rosemont Theater with Michael Feinstein, The Cincinnati Pops with Erich Kunzel and annual Christmas concerts of Too Hot To Handel at the Detroit Opera House and the Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre. The show made its Memphis Orpheum Theatre debut April 21st and 22nd in 2018.

Recordings include (Sony/BMG), PBS Great Performances Cook, Dixon & Young Volume One released in (2005), Follow That Star Christmas CD (2003), Liam Lawton’s Sacred Land (2006) and Rodrick Dixon Live in Concert (2008) and a Christmas album with the Cincinnati Pops.

Alvin Waddles

Pianist, singer, composer, director, Alvin Waddles began studying the piano at the age of eight in his hometown of Detroit. He continued his studies at the Interlochen Arts Academy and the University Of Michigan School Of Music. After returning home to Detroit he immediately immersed himself in the rich musical culture of the city, benefiting from the diverse influences that would eventually shape his own unique style.
Mr. Waddles has worked in the Detroit and Ann Arbor Public Schools and currently serves as Musical Consultant/Musical Director for the Mount Vernon Public Schools, Performing Arts Dept in New York. He has also served as Music Ministries of several churches; among them, the historic New Bethel Baptist Church, Hartford Memorial Baptist and Hope United Methodist in Southfield, Michigan where he has served as the Director of Music since 1995
He has been musical director and/or pianist for numerous theatrical productions including: The Wiz, The Color Purple, Dreamgirls, Chorus Line, West Side Story, Sophisticated Ladies. He served for a decade as Musical Director for The Three Mo’ Tenors, aka Cook, Dixon & Young and their touring productions and recordings.

He received rave reviews as a featured performer in the Detroit Music Hall’s long running production of Ain’t Misbehavin’. During the 2010-2011 season his diverse gifts were on full display when, within a two week period, he sang the role of Crown for Bolling Green University’s production of Gershwin’s ‘Porgy and Bess’ and played the composer’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ with the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra.

Mr. Waddles has delighted Detroit music lovers with performances in a variety of musical events including the international Detroit Jazz Fest and the Detroit Festival of the Arts. He is the featured piano soloist in the often-sold-out annual productions of “Too Hot to Handel” in both Detroit and Chicago and can be found performing wherever music is celebrated from festivals to jazz clubs, and performing arts venues. Waddles received the 2010 Excellence Award from Detroit Musicians Association and the Detroit City Council’s 2015 Spirit of Detroit Award. This year he was the 2018 Artist in Residence at the Tuba Bach Festival in west Michigan.

Mr. Waddles’ engagements as a soloist and featured artist have taken him to a variety of destinations including Barbados, Beijing, Paris, Barcelona and Ghana, West Africa. He has been blessed to work with some of the world’s finest musicians including Robert Shaw, Margaret Hillis, Brazeal Dennard, Minister Thomas Whitfield, Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, Placido Domingo, George Shirley, Marcus Belgrave, Jack Jones, Haley Westenra, Stephanie Mills and Tramaine Hawkins.