Login failed. Please try again.

Press Released: 05 Jan 2022

OPERA America awards third cycle of IDEA Opera Grants to Diana Solomon-Glover, Maria Thompson Corley, Pamela Baskin-Watson & Nedra Dixon

Generously supported by the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation.

OPERA America is pleased to announce the third cycle of IDEA Opera Grants (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access), an initiative that supports teams of composers and librettists who identify as African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and/or Native American in the development of new operatic works and the advancement of their careers in the opera industry.

This year’s grantees are:

  • Diana Solomon-Glover, librettist, and Maria Thompson Corley, composer, for The Boy from Troy
  • Pamela Baskin-Watson, composer/librettist, and Nedra Dixon, co-librettist for A GOD • SIB'S TALE: A Folk Opera.

(See below for additional information about the artists and works.)

Each awarded team receives a prize of $12,500 to support the production of a workshop, reading, or other performance-based event, plus high-quality video recordings of workshops and working performances for promotional use. The awardees will be featured on OPERA America’s digital and social platforms and in Opera America Magazine. The artists and their work will also be introduced to field leaders at OPERA America’s New Works Forum and Opera Conference. The grants are generously supported by the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation, a family foundation committed to promoting equal rights and social justice through education, music, and the law.

The two grantee teams were selected from 38 applicant teams by an independent panel of industry experts consisting of Brent Michael Davids, composer; Leah Maddrie, librettist; Tian Hui Ng, conductor; Aria Umezawa, director, producer, and writer; Monica Yunus, soprano; and Cerise Jacobs, Charles and Cerise Jacobs Foundation.

“Embarking on the third cycle of the IDEA Opera Grants, our commitment to uplift diverse voices, stories, and faces in the opera field is stronger than ever,” stated Cerise Jacobs, president of the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation. “We are delighted to support the development of The Boy from Troy and A GOD • SIB'S TALE: A Folk Opera — works that focus on issues of social justice created by four brilliant artists of the global majority.”

“OPERA America is committed to developing the contemporary American opera repertoire so that it reflects the diversity of the nation,” remarked Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. “Amplifying the voices of composers and librettists who are new to opera is a vital part of that work. OPERA America is grateful to the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation for its continued commitment to promoting social justice through the arts.”

The IDEA Opera Grants program is complemented by the IDEA Opera Residencies program, supported by the Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund of The Scherman Foundation, to promote the early work in opera by creative artists who identify as Arab/Middle Eastern/North African, Asian/Pacific Islander/South Asian, Black, Hispanic/LatinX, and/or Native America, resident in New York City.  These programs join other grants that are designed to broaden and diversify the contemporary American opera repertoire. Since the inception of its granting programs, OPERA America has awarded over $20 million to the opera field to support the work of opera creators and producers.

Applications for the next round of IDEA Opera Grants will open in fall 2022. More information about OPERA America’s grant programs is available at operaamerica.org/Grants.


Librettist Diana Solomon-Glover partners with composer Maria Thompson Corley to create The Boy from Troy, a 20- to 25-minute semi-staged oratorio with text based on the life and accomplishments of the late Congressman John Lewis. This new work features a speaker, SATB soloists, large chorus, and a 30- to 40-piece orchestra. Among other seminal moments of Lewis’ life and events connected to his involvement in the civil rights movement, the piece highlights his participation in the march from Selma, Alabama, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the essay he wrote to America in his final days. The piece is being developed in collaboration with the National Chorale and Opera Noire International, a New York-based African American opera company. The National Chorale will premiere the work at its annual Carnegie Hall concert, and Opera Noire International will create opportunities for engagement with junior high and high school students in the New York City public school system.

Diana Solomon-Glover, librettist

Diana Solomon-Glover, soprano, librettist, and producer, has dedicated her career to creating musical experiences that reflect a broad human consciousness and address humanitarian and social justice issues. The Santa Fe Opera commissioned her Opera for All Voices, which is scheduled to premiere in October 2022. Her most meaningful endeavors include performing as a featured soloist in the Innocence Project’s Fifth Annual Gala, which celebrated the emancipation of wrongly incarcerated Americans and raised $250,000 for programs benefitting children orphaned by AIDS; serving as a producer of Project People Foundation’s “Celebration of Life” concerts, for which she spoke the prophetic words of Abraham Lincoln in Aaron Copeland’s Lincoln Portrait; and writing the libretto for This Little Light of Mine, an opera with music by Chandler Carter that commemorates the work of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.

Maria Thompson Corley, composer

Maria Thompson Corley is a sought-after composer and arranger. Her solo piano piece Lucid Dream was a semi-finalist in the international Fidelio Competition. Her music has been commissioned or recorded by several universities, Juventas New Music Ensemble, and the Canadian Art Song Project, along with individuals such as tubist Daniel Rowland, countertenor Darryl Taylor, and sopranos Sequina DuBose, Louise Toppin, and Randye Jones. Corley is published by Walton, North Star, Classical Vocal Reprints, and NoteNova. Her song cycle Grasping Water was added to the curricula at University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Jackdaws Music Education Trust in the U.K., and University of California (Irvine). Her debut mini-opera, The Sky Where You Are, with a libretto by Jenny O’Connell, was part of the award-winning Decameron Opera Coalition’s Tales from a Safe Distance. Corley’s second mini-opera, The Place, with a libretto by Sandra Oyinloye, was written for DOC’s subsequent production, Heroes. Her songs have been performed by internationally renowned singers, including Raehann Bryce-Davis and Nadine Benjamin. Born in Jamaica and raised in Canada, Corley has performed internationally, both as a solo and collaborative artist, at venues including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History, Epidaurus Festival, Liszt Academy, Carnegie Recital Hall, Aaron Davis Hall, and Alice Tully Hall.


Pamela Baskin-Watson and Nedra Dixon have joined together to create A GOD • SIB'S TALE: A Folk Opera. Composed by Baskin-Watson with a book by both Baskin-Watson and Dixon, this work takes place in the fictional town of Floyd County, Ohio, in 1957, just before the beginning of the civil rights movement. Eight women of color learn of an impending, racially charged unrest that threatens to disrupt their rural community. The birth of a baby with light skin, born of the county's most prominent White citizen, old man John Crawford, and his young wife, Tillie Mae, gives truth to a rumor that Tillie Mae had been unfaithful to her husband with a young Negro man. An impending show of hatred forces these eight women, who range in age from early 20s to late 70s, to examine their views on family, community, love, and what it means to have to navigate life through the lens of racism. This project will be workshopped in early January 2022 as part of the Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City’s New Works Festival.

Pamela Baskin-Watson, composer/librettist

Pamela Baskin-Watson is a composer, arranger, and lyricist whose compositions have been recorded by such artists as Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Bobby Watson and Horizon, 29th Street Saxophone Quartet, Blue Note Super Blue Big Band, Tailor-Made Big Band, Boys Choir of Harlem, and World Youth Choir, as well as Roy Hargrove, Deborah Brown, Betty Carter, Kevin Mahogany, Mark Murphy, Terell Stafford, Victor Lewis, and James Williams. In 2020, she was asked to give a presentation honoring the life of jazz pianist Hazel Scott as part of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s Women’s Jazz Festival. From 1992 to 2000, Baskin-Watson taught at the Harlem School of the Arts, serving as founder and director/pianist of the Vocal Jazz Ensemble. She began her career as a freelance accompanist, always in demand due to her ability to play many musical styles. A resident of Kansas City, Missouri, she continues to work as a pianist and music director for such area theaters as Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, Spinning Tree Theatre, Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City, and Music Theater Heritage.

Nedra Dixon, co-librettist

Nedra Dixon is an actor, singer, dancer, director, and choreographer. She has received critical acclaim in both Broadway and Off-Broadway venues, as well as on national tours and at regional theaters, for productions of Bubbling Brown Sugar, Tintypes, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Into the Woods, and Thoroughly Modern Millie, among others. She has shared the stage with such eclectic artists as Kristin Chenoweth and Meat Loaf, and she has worked with noted theater industry powerhouses including Stephen Schwartz, John Caird, Susan Stroman, Jerry Zaks, Ricardo Khan, Luther Henderson, Charles Strouse, and Lee Adams. Dixon performed twice at the White House during the Ford administration, and she performed at the Kennedy Center when Eubie Blake was celebrated for his lifelong contributions to the world of music. Currently living in Kansas City, Missouri, she is very active in the city’s vibrant arts scene. In an unexpected turn, she can be seen in popular rapper Tech N9ne’s hip-hop music video, Fear, which has been viewed over 2.7 million times on YouTube. For five years, she appeared as featured vocalist/co-host on Kansas City’s NPR-affiliated jazz show 12th Street Jump.


For more information on OPERA America, visit About Us.

For press inquiries, contact Press@operaamerica.org or 212.796.8628.