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IU Jacobs School of Music faculty member elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 25, 2019

Marietta Simpson

Marietta Simpson
Photo by JRSimpson Photography

Print-Quality Photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Marietta Simpson, Rudy Professor of Music (Voice) in the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, has been elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies.

An internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano, Simpson has been an IU Jacobs School of Music faculty member since 2005.

“We are thrilled for Marietta," said Gwyn Richards, David Henry Jacobs Bicentennial Dean of the Jacobs School. “What a fitting tribute to this great musician, pedagogue and person. She stands for all that is great in this world, plumbs our deepest emotions with her artistry, focuses our attention on what really matters and helps us imagine a more humane and civil society. Her art is profound, her passion abiding and her impact, we have come to know, lasting and worthy of national recognition.”

Known for her rich, deeply expressive voice, Simpson has sung with every major orchestra in the United States, under many of the world’s greatest conductors, including the late Robert Shaw, with whom she made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1988 as soloist in Brahms’ “Alto Rhapsody” with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She has also sung with many of the major European orchestras and on some of the world’s greatest operatic stages.

Simpson has an extensive discography and has performed on several Grammy-nominated recordings. Her latest project, “Crooked Stick: Songs in a Strange Land,” an 11-track CD produced by IU professor Tyron Cooper, is her first solo project and features 8 Negro spirituals in acoustic instrumental arrangements, incorporating African American musical styles such as blues, gospel and jazz. The remaining three tracks feature Simpson performing her own written versions of slave narratives in dialect.

In electing its new class of more than 200 members, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals in academia, the arts, business, government and public affairs.

Some of Simpson’s 2019 classmates include gender theorist Judith Butler from the University of California, Berkeley, economist Xiaohong Chen from Yale University, neuro-oncologist Robert B. Darnell from Rockefeller University, former First Lady Michelle L.R. Obama and actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith.

The new class will be inducted at an October 2019 ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts, joining the company of previously elected academy members, including Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Maria Mitchell, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, Margaret Mead, Martin Luther King, Jr., Antonin Scalia, Michael Bloomberg, John Lithgow and Judy Woodruff.

The academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good. Its dual mission remains essentially the same 239 years later, with honorees from increasingly diverse fields.

Linda Cajigas
Assistant Director of Communications
IU Jacobs School of Music
812-856-3882 |