US soprano, who has won wide acclaim for both her operatic and concert performances.
Born in Augusta, Georgia, she won a scholarship to Howard University, Washington d.c., to study music and subsequently continued her studies at the University of Michigan. In 1968 she won the Bavarian Radio Corporation International Music Competition and a year later she made her opera debut in Wagner's Tannhaüser in Berlin. This success led to a contract with the Berlin Opera and to the growth of her reputation in Europe, where she was widely admired for her powerful stage presence. She made her debut at Covent Garden and La Scala in 1972, finally appearing in New York for the first time in 1973. Her performances in the works of Wagner, Schubert, and Mahler increased her prestige in the 1970s and 1980s. In association with Colin Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra she has made many notable recordings. She was named an honorary UN ambassador in 1990.