Richard Blakeney

Organic Opera. (773) 732-8975.

You’ve heard people playing the guitar or violin on street corners before, but you’ve likely never heard someone singing opera on the street. That’s what Richard Blakeney does, but there’s more at stake here than getting a few bits of spare change for a song — he brings the grandeur of opera to school kids across the Carolinas. A graduate of Winthrop University in Rock Hill and an alumnus of Opera Carolina in Charlotte, Blakeney is the founder of Organic Opera, a grass-roots education program to teach children to sing with the power of the late Luciano Pavarotti. As he notes on his MySpace page: “This program focuses on exposing books of famous black opera singers to minority elementary age students. The program can be offered at the library or in classroom settings. Basically, the singing actor reads the book and sings the songs to give an unforgettable musical experience that kids of all ages love.”