Wayne State University

Emery Stephens



Baritone Emery Stephens is Assistant Professor of Voice at Wayne State University. He earned music degrees from Gordon College, Boston University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan. Praised for his singing “with ringing suavity and articulate intelligence" (The Boston Phoenix), Dr. Stephens has performed with the Windsor Classic Chorale, Abridged Opera of Ontario, Michigan Philharmonic, Michigan Opera Theatre’s Community Programs, Detroit Jazz Festival, Arbor Opera Theater, Ann Arbor Symphony, Carolina Ballet, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera New England, Boston Opera Theatre, Handel and Haydn Society, Orchestra Canton, Main Street Opera, Boston Early Music Festival, and the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Stephens has a particular interest in pursuing projects by contemporary composers such as The Passion of John Brown by Jesse Ayers, JFK: The Voice of Peace by Daniel Welcher and Sweet Music in Harlem by Andy Kirschner.

His operatic roles include Aeneas in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Mel in Tippett's Knot Garden, Melchior and Balthazar in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, Benoit and Alcindoro in Puccini's La Boheme, Masetto in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Father in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, Junius in Britten's Rape of Lucretia, Damis in Mechem's Tartuffe, Dosher in James P. Johnson's De Organizer, and Maximilian in Bernstein's Candide. Music critic Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe wrote, "As Mel in Michael Tippett's Knot Garden, Stephens disappeared entirely into his character."  A versatile and charismatic singer, he has worked with prominent stage directors including Dorothy Danner, Simon Target, Elkhanah Pulitzer, Kay Walker Castaldo, Leon Major, Will Graham and Peter Sellars as well as with noted choreographer Bill T. Jones. Additionally, he sang supporting roles in the Boston Early Music Festival's production of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo at Harvard University with conductor Andrew Parrott and lutenist Paul O'Dette.  

In addition to performance opportunities, Stephens held teaching appointments at the Boston Center for Adult Education, Eastern Michigan University, Concordia University-Ann Arbor, and the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Prior to teaching in higher education, Dr. Stephens taught middle school vocal music in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An enthusiastic advocate for music education, Dr. Stephens has worked with local programs such as the Mosaic Youth Theatre and Michigan Sings in Detroit, and the Young Musicians Program at the University of California Berkeley. As a teacher committed to the continual development of his pedagogic skills, Stephens completed professional summer workshops at the Eastman School of Music, Westminster Choir College, and with Los Angeles vocal coach, Lisa Popeil, on the pedagogy of contemporary commercial technique and vocal styles (Voiceworks Method).

Dr. Stephens has offered lecture recital presentations and vocal master classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Spelman College, Delta State University, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Delta State University, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Bemidji State University. He has presented his scholarship at conference sessions for the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Midwest Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology, National Association for the Study and Performance of African American Music, College Music Society, Garth Institute for Music Research and Performance Symposium, National Association of Teachers of Singing, International Congress of Voice Teachers, International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and the African-American Art Song Alliance. In 2014, he was named Africana Artist-in-Residence at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Additionally, his scholarship was highlighted in the collaborative article, “Diversifying the Playing Field: Solo Performance of African American Spirituals and Art Songs by Voice Students from all Racial Backgrounds," published by the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

He is affiliated with the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Center for Black Music Research, African American Art Song Alliance, Detroit Musicians Association, National Association of Negro Musicians, and the National Opera Association.