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3-Yr-Old's Dad Gunned Down in Drive-By Shooting. 16 Yrs Later, Son's Singing on Opera Stage

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At the tender age of 19, Anthony Anderson is accruing a list of accomplishments most people only dream about. For starters, he’s inviting his mom to hear him perform at the Fort Worth Opera’s annual gala — the first time she’s ever heard her son sing on a professional stage.

He’s also deciding whether to attend the Juilliard School, the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, or Oberlin Conservatory of Music. All three of these highly revered music programs evaluated his vocal audition, and instantly offered him full scholarships to their institutions.

Anderson majored in voice at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. As part of this demanding curriculum, he taught himself foreign languages including German and Italian.

This helps him sing everything from sweeping arias, to energetic Gershwin tunes, to soulful spiritual hymns. Yet what really makes Anderson’s journey so inspiring is that his growing-up years were anything but lyrical.

His proud mom worked tirelessly to raise Anderson and his six older siblings, all by herself. That’s because his father had been gunned down and killed by a drive-by shooter.

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Experiencing this kind of violent, monumental loss would be horrific at any age. But Anderson himself, at the time, was only three years old.

So he toiled through school largely on his own, developing a keen interest in music and learning how to sight-read. He recently told NBC News that he still keeps his father’s picture on his mirror, a silent but guiding presence.

Working with accomplished pianist Michael Crabill as his mentor and accompanist, Anderson kept himself focused on honing his stage presence. He enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University after high school, hoping he could work on the side to cover tuition fees that financial aid wouldn’t.

The gamble didn’t pay off, and the college ultimately refused to re-admit Anderson until all his debts were settled. So he dropped out, but decided he wouldn’t give up.

As a direct result, just last summer, Anderson organized a recital at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. He also kicked off a GoFundMe campaign, and his perseverance gradually attracted the attention of major news outlets.

Journalists attended his performance and were stunned by the resonant voice coming out of this determined young man. “It’s hard to believe that’s coming from an 18-year-old,” said Crabill at the time, dubbing Anderson’s talent “really, really rare.”

The subsequent word-of-mouth, publicity, and social media shares helped Anderson sail right past his stated GoFundMe tuition goal. He embarked on a tour of seven top-level music schools across the country, before narrowing down the choice to three finalists.



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For a boy who grew up without a dad offering steady guidance and encouragement, all of this represents a remarkable odyssey. And that’s definitely not lost on Anthony Anderson.

“So many great things are at work in my life right now because of my family, friends and mentors,” he recently wrote on Facebook. It amounts to living proof that almost anything is possible with enough faith, drive, heart, humility, and people who truly believe in you.

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Mary Bittel is a professional writer, marketer, and published author. She's produced content for several respected media organizations, and dozens of major industries including education, animal welfare, healthcare, finance, non-profit, technology, and entertainment. As an accomplished musician, she's also worked in a therapeutic teaching capacity with developmentally disabled children.
Mary Bittel is a professional writer, marketer, and published author. She's produced content for several respected media organizations, and dozens of major industries including education, animal welfare, healthcare, finance, non-profit, technology, and entertainment. As an accomplished musician, she's also worked in a therapeutic teaching capacity with developmentally disabled children. Additionally, she's an avid animal lover who has spent much of her life rehabilitating abused rescue canines.
Books Written
"The Hidden Treasury: Stories of Wonders and Wanderings"
Location
Illinois
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Music, Marketing, Nutrition, Fitness, Pet Care/Behavior, Cooking, Entertainment




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