Vocalist holds ‘Quarantine Concert’ in Penn Hills; onlookers delighted
by Jacquelyn McDonald and Rob Taylor Jr.
Courier Staff Writers
The sun was warm on May 2, but its brightness had to compete with the light of Chantal Braziel. Braziel, a
classical music major at Carnegie Mellon University and a preacher’s daughter from Penn Hills, decided to
present a “Quarantine Concert” in her neighborhood driveway, much to the delight of her family, neighbors and friends.
Braziel, who many say is the newest singing sensation, broke out the sound system, attracting so much attention that even a local TV station came to the house.
Braziel was recently featured in Pittsburgh as a lead vocalist on the Heinz Hall stage with the “Lift Every
Voice Unity Choir” under the direction of Rev. Nicol Porter.
Braziel’s most cherished accomplishment to date was the opportunity to share the Metropolitan Opera stage in New York City with a host of vocalists for several months this past winter; her debut date was Sept. 23, 2019, a day she’ll never forget.
Also, Braziel’s part in George Gershwin’s Porky & Bess was celebrated by many Pittsburghers as the live
pesentation was shown at the Monroeville Cinema at the mall.
In an interview with musicestate.com in 2019, Braziel said that singing onstage is her favorite part about
being a vocalist. “From singing in operas to recitals, I am completely different character onstage. My presence is known there, and from the moment I open my mouth to sing a tune in whatever language I am in, I use what I have been trained to do, and become whole with God on that stage.”
Braziel told musicestate.com that she’d been singing “way before” she could talk. She took voice and piano
lessons when she was younger, but didn’t know anything about opera until she pursued it as an undergrad at Saint Vincent College.
She then learned about Leontyne Price, one of the most popular American classical singers of her time, and the first African American to become a leading performer at the Metropolitan Opera.
“(Price) broke down barriers that were not always open for Blacks due to her determination, not to mention her golden voice,” Braziel told musicestate.com. “Whenever I learn a new piece, I always listen to her recordings, because her voice and artistry inspire me to create my own. “
Braziel, 27, graduated from Saint Vincent’s with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Vocal Performance with a
concentration in Opera. But that wasn’t enough for the high-achiever. Braziel is pursuing a master’s degree at CMU.
Chantal Braziel, the daughter of Melvin and Valda Braziel of Solid Rock Church on the South Side, has already racked up some hardware—she’s won second place in the W. Russell Johnson Music Guild of the National Association of Negro Musicians competition.
She’s also performed with The Pittsburgh Opera, as she was in the chorus of the production, “The Summer King,” based on Negro League baseball player Josh Gibson.
Braziel admits she’s dealt with performance anxiety, but in her line of work, if you’re never nervous, “that is
a problem,” she told musicestate.com. “But I learn ways to not show it. That is part of putting yourself out
there as an artist. I try not to let it hold me back; instead, I use being nervous to help me stay alert.”
For those not in the performing artists scene, the Metropolitan Opera was founded in 1883. It’s the largest
classical music organization on this continent. The most creative and talented singers, conductors, composers, musicians, etc., have played at “The Met.”
It’s located on Broadway in The Big Apple, at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, on the Upper West
Side of Manhattan.
And when Braziel was there last fall, it was music to her ears.
“I will always remember the way I felt the first time I stepped on that glorious stage,” she told
musicestate.com. “We started rehearsals onstage after the first few weeks of rehearsing. I looked out at the
hall right in front of me, staring into that marvelous space. I couldn’t keep my eyes off it. Just to be
standing in that same space where some of the greatest opera legends once stood was mind-blowing. The acoustics are second-to-none amazing. At that moment, I felt like I was right where I belonged.”
FEATURED IMAGE: CHANTAL BRAZIEL, of Penn Hills, is gaining more and more attention as a vocalist. She is currently studying at Carnegie Mellon University. (Photo by Jacquelyn McDonald)
Pastor Melvin Braziel, George Calloway. Braziel is Chantal’s father; Calloway is Chantal’s grandfather.
The Jones Family enjoys THE CONCERT from their car…
MORE Neighbors enjoying the concert
Neighbor presents Flowers at the conclusion of concert.