9th Annual Shirley Verrett Award Ceremony

May 12, 2021 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Click here to view the interactive event program!


The University of Michigan Women of Color in the Academy Project will present its 9th Annual Shirley Verrett Award to Professor of Music (Voice), Daniel Washington.

Professor Washington is being recognized for his exemplary leadership and advocacy on behalf of diverse students and faculty artists at U-M. In addition, we are celebrating his innovation and impact on advancing diversity and inclusion at U-M and beyond through his performances and service.

Marcía Porter, Professor of Voice, Florida State University, and the cousin & former student of Shirley Verrett, will be a special guest performer!

The event is free and open to the public, however, registration is requested. Feel free to forward this invitation to those who may be interested in learning more about Shirley Verrett and Daniel Washington’s impact on academia and the Arts!

Interactive Program

Click here to view the interactive event programPlease take note of the fact that the program is interactive; feel free to click on blue bolded words, logos, and ads to read and learn more.

Daniel Washington, 2019-20 Award Recipient

Daniel A. Washington is a bass-baritone and tenured Professor of Music (Voice) at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, & Dance, and an Honorary Professor (Humanities) at the University of Cape Town, South African College of Music. An award-winning artist, teacher, mentor, scholar, and administrator, Washington is an expert on African American classical music and spirituals, Porgy and Bess, and diversity in the arts. He graduated with a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where he received the Chramer Scholarship for Excellence in Opera. Washington received a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Furman University in Greenville, SC. He was an apprentice at the Oglebay-Goldovsky Opera Institute and a member of the International Opera Studio of the Zürich Opera House, as well as a guest vocal instructor at the Luzern Conservatory of Music in Switzerland.

An active performer, Washington’s career has taken him to the world’s major opera houses and concert stages. Highlights of Washington’s operatic career include his Royal Opera Covent Garden debut in Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten, conducted by Bernard Haitink, as Jochanaan in Salome at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Sicily, and as Porgy at Theater des Westens (Berlin) in the highly acclaimed production directed by Götz Friedrich. He also created the role of Steven Biko in the world premiere of the opera Biko for the Royal Opera’s Garden Venture Project and performed the title role in King, The Musical at the Piccadilly Theatre in London.  He has also appeared at the Zürich Opera, Hamburg State Opera, and Opéra Comique in Paris. Concert versions of Porgy and Bess include the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle, Montreal Symphony under Charles Dutoit, Detroit Symphony, Oregon Symphony, London Symphony, and Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich. Washington sang in the world premiere of the song cycle Angel of Dreamers by Eric Ewazen with the Michigan Chamber Players and the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings and portrayed Balthazar in Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, directed by the composer. He has appeared in concert with the Ann Arbor Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Milwaukee Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Bayerische Rundfunk, Rotterdam Philharmonic, and Czech Philharmonic. As a recitalist, he has appeared in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, as well as the Spoleto Festival USA, the Moja Festival, and the Colour of Music Festival (Charleston, SC).

Professor Washington is an elected member of Pi Kappa Lamba National Honor Society and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. He has received awards for artistry, including the First Prize in the International Voice Competition of Toulouse, First Prize in the International Competition of Lyric Singing in Verviers, and the Bad Hersfeld Opera Prize. His recordings include the critically acclaimed Nobody is Somebody, a CD of songs by black composers from the early 20th century, a recording of Spirituals, “Songs my Mother Taught Me,” the Baritone Solo in Appalachia by Frederick Delius, Pizarro in Beethoven’s Fidelio, Tom in Gershwin’s Blue Monday Blues, the Bass Soloist in Stabat Mater by Rossini, and Tarquinio in Respighi’s Lucretia. He is currently completing a recording that include works by African American composers of the 21st century. Washington recently launched the annual Lucy Washington Annual Vocal Competition in his hometown of Summerville, South Carolina.

A seasoned leader, Professor Washington recently served as the Senior Advisor to the Dean and Associate Dean for Faculty and Multicultural Affairs. He was a Center for Institutional Cooperation Leadership Fellow. A national leader in achieving a critical mass of minorities and women in the arts and academy, he received the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award. He was a member of U-M’s President’s Advisory Committee for Women, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. University-wide Symposium committee, and chaired the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Mentoring and Community Building.

A highly sought-after lecturer and mentor, Washington’s students often win prestigious and highly competitive vocal competitions and participate in fellowships and young artist programs such as Adler, Merola, Chicago Lyric Opera Ryan Center, Belvedere, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and America’s Got Talent. His students can be heard with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Opera Theater, Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, and festivals across the world. They also excel as teachers and leaders in the performing arts and academy. He provides clinical instruction, adjudicates, and teaches master classes across the globe including annual summer residencies in South Africa at the University of Cape Town and the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra in Berkeley, California. Washington currently serves as a board member, regional director, and collegiate director for the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM) and as president of the Detroit Musicians Association, a branch of NANM.

Daniel is an avid biker and swimmer who enjoys watching college football, supporting the arts, and spending time with friends and family.


The Shirley Verrett Award was created in 2011 by the Office of the Senior Vice Provost in honor of the late Shirley Verrett, a teacher who “would have walked the world over for her students.” The award is administered by WOCAP at the Center for the Education of Women, and recognizes a faculty member whose teaching, performance, scholarship or service supports the success of female students or faculty in the arts who come from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds.

Verrett was a James Earl Jones Distinguished University Professor of Voice at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, as well as an internationally acclaimed opera singer who was one of the pioneering leaders in the generation of black opera singers. She performed more than 40 roles all over the world during the course of her four-decade career.