The University of Michigan Women of Color in the Academy Project has scheduled a virtual award ceremony for May 12 to present its ninth annual Shirley Verrett Award to Daniel Washington, a bass-baritone and professor of music (voice) at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and an honorary professor (humanities) at the University of Cape Town South African College of Music.

Daniel Washington
Daniel Washington

Washington will be recognized for his exemplary leadership and advocacy on behalf of diverse students and faculty artists. In addition, the award celebrates his innovation and impact on advancing diversity and inclusion at U-M and beyond through his performances and service.

The ceremony in honor of Verrett and Washington begins at 5 p.m. May 12, followed by a toast. Marcia Porter, associate professor of voice at Florida State University, and a cousin and former student of Verrett, will be a special guest performer. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is requested. 

Washington is an expert on African American classical music and spirituals and has received national and international awards for artistry.

His recordings include “Songs my Mother Taught Me,” “Nobody is Somebody,” the baritone solo in “Appalachia” by Delius, Pizarro in Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” Tom in Gershwin’s “Blue Monday Blues,” the bass aoloist in “Stabat Mater” by Rossini, and Tarquinio in Respighi’s “Lucretia.”

He recently launched the annual Lucy Washington­­ Annual Vocal Competition in Summerville, South Carolina. Washington was senior adviser to the dean and associate dean for faculty and multicultural affairs, and a Center for Institutional Cooperation Leadership Fellow.

A national leader in achieving a critical mass of minorities and women in the arts and academy, Washington received the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award and was a member of U-M’s President’s Advisory Committee for Women, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium.

The Shirley Verrett Award was created in 2011 by the Office of the Senior Vice Provost in honor of the late Shirley Verrett, a U-M professor who “would have walked the world over for her students,” organizers say.

Verrett was a James Earl Jones Distinguished University Professor of Voice at SMTD and an internationally acclaimed opera singer with more than 40 roles during the course of her four-decade career. She was one of the pioneering leaders in the generation of black opera singers, and her legacy continues to pave the way for female artists from diverse backgrounds.

The award is administered by WOCAP and is supported by SMTD.