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From Munford to New York City, Munford High 1984 Graduate gets ready for Lincoln Center Singing Debut

Star Staff Reports

Dr. Richard Todd Payne

Dr. Richard Todd Payne

In 1986, Dr. Richard Todd Payne traveled with the Memphis State University Singers (Now University of Memphis) to New York to sing at Carnegie Hall.
April 14, 2018 Todd will go back to New York; this time as a soloist as he makes his debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.
“To know that I am going to stand on the same stage where several of the world’s greatest opera singers stood and performed is truly a blessing that, without a doubt, could only happen in God’s perfect timing,” Payne says.
The son of Ruby Payne of Munford, Tn. Dr. Todd Payne, who is a Tenured Full Professor of Music-Voice at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, began his singing career in the choir at St. James C.M.E. in Millington and in the Munford High School Choir.
Since then, Todd, whose voice has been described as “Magnificent,” “Impassioned,” and “Stentorian,” is continuously sought after for his commanding presence, ringing tones and intense work ethic in opera, recital, concert & oratorio.
Recently Todd perform a series of selections with Topeka and Springfield symphonies in celebration of African-American Heritage Month and ended each concert with his moving interpretation of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream speech,” with an underlying orchestral arrangement of “Precious Lord Take My Hand” & “We Shall Overcome.”
In October 2017 Todd sang his first Iago in Springfield Regional Opera’s concert performance of Otello. Prior to this performance, he sang the role of Malatesta in Springfield Regional Opera’s production of Don Pasquale. February 2017 he was the bass soloist in Beethoven 9th with Springfield Symphony Orchestra and in January 2017 he reprised the role of Hero/Louis Armstrong in Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Opera The Real Ambassadors in Memphis; a role he first sang in a collaboration with Opera Memphis/Rhodes College in April 2016. During this same month, Todd made his Topeka Symphony Orchestra debut as the bass soloist in The Verdi Requiem.  Summer 2016, Todd appeared in concert as guest soloist with the Memphis Wind Ensemble.
In May 2015, Todd fulfilled a life-long dream when he sang “Old Man River” with the Memphis Symphony at Tom Lee Park!
Summer 2014 Todd was heard in the title role in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with the Princeton Opera Festival in Princeton New Jersey and received review following review:
Richard Todd Payne conveys the spirit of his character, and the opera, before he even opens his mouth. You like this Porgy the minute he makes his entrance. Payne’s physical stature is of a piece with his spiritual resolve. There’s a solidity in his manner, and you just know there is nothing that will keep him down, totally at variance with his status as Catfish Row’s crippled beggar. When he sings “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’,” you believe icebergs would glance off the prow of this man, and you suspect the menacing Crown is in for a world of hurt.
Upcoming performances include performing, again, the role of Louis Armstrong in Dave Bruckbeck’s “The Real Ambassadors” at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Memphis, Tennessee and the bass soloist in The Verdi Requiem with Springfield Symphony.
Todd is represented by Dietsch Artists International in Orange County, New Jersey. The key to his success is first and foremost, his Strong Faith in God and the profound belief: IF YOUR MIND CONCEIVES IT, YOUR HEART BELIEVES IT, YOU CAN ACHIEVE IT!

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