Emery Stephens, baritone, joined the music faculty at St. Olaf College in 2019, where he teaches voice students and music-related courses. Praised by the Boston Phoenix for his singing "with ringing suavity and articulate intelligence," he performs a diverse vocal repertoire, from traditional to contemporary. A versatile and charismatic singer, Dr. Stephens has performed with the Boston Art Song Society, Bridge Chamber Music Festival, Abridged Opera of Ontario, Wilmington Symphony, Carolina Ballet with members of the North Carolina Symphony, Arbor Opera Theater, Michigan Philharmonic, Ann Arbor Symphony, Boston Lyric Opera/Opera New England, Michigan Philharmonic, Michigan Opera Theatre's Community Education Programs, and the Detroit Jazz Festival in a revival of Dave Brubeck's The Gates of Justice with renowned jazz pianist Jason Moran and his trio, The Bandwagon. He has performed works by American composers, such as True Witness: A Civil Rights Cantata by Jodi Goble and the role of Brother Dosher in a blues opera De Organizer by James P. Johnson with lyricist Langston Hughes, recorded by Naxos Music. As a narrator, he has collaborated with Michigan Philharmonic on the Passion of John Brown by Jesse Ayers and Paddle to the Sea by Andre Meyers, and the jazz-inspired Sweet Music in Harlem premiere by Andy Kirschner with the Ann Arbor Symphony.
The Boston Globe wrote, "As Mel in Michael Tippett's opera, The Knot Garden, Stephens disappeared entirely into his character." As a singing actor, he has worked with innovative stage directors – Simon Target, Elkhanah Pulitzer, Dorothy Danner, Nicolette Molnár, Kay Walker Castaldo, Will Graham, and noted choreographer Bill T. Jones. Additionally, he sang supporting roles in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo with conductor Andrew Parrott, lutenist Paul O'Dette and the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre.
An enthusiastic advocate for music education and inspiring communities through vocal music, Dr. Stephens is a core summer faculty member of the Singing Down the Barriers Institute at the University of Michigan. He is a master teacher for the "Song of America" project through the Hampsong Foundation, exploring classic American songs' diversity as an interdisciplinary lens for teaching. His past engagements as a teaching artist include Carnegie Hall/Weill Music Institute, Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, and the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture sponsored by the Spokane Symphony. His workshop presentation, "Mirror on the Wall: Self-Care and Modeling Healthy Vocal Habits in the Classroom," was launched at the 2017 All-State Conference of the Arkansas Music Educators Association.
A 2014 Africana Artist-in-Residence at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Dr. Stephens has presented at conference sessions for the International Congress of Voice Teachers, International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Garth Institute for Music Research, National Association for the Study and Performance of African American Music, and the African American Art Song Alliance. As co-founder of the "Singing Down the Barriers" project with Dr. Caroline Helton at the University of Michigan, he co-published articles in the Journal of Multicultural Teaching and Learning and the NATS Journal of Singing and a book chapter on African American Art Song in So You Want to Sing Spirituals by Randye Jones. His latest book with Dr. Helton, Singing Down the Barriers: A Guide to Centering African American Song for Concert Performers, was released by Rowman & Littlefield (July 2023)
A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Dr. Stephens earned degrees from Gordon College (BA), Boston University (MM), and the University of Michigan (DMA). He was a regional finalist for the Leontyne Price Vocal Arts Competition and performed in masterclasses for Nico Castel, Martina Arroyo, Darryl Taylor, and composer Robert Owens. He completed summer workshops at the Eastman School of Music, Westminster Choir College, David Jones Teacher Mentoring Seminar (New York), and with Los Angeles vocal coach Lisa Popeil on contemporary commercial technique and vocal styles. Dr. Stephens is a National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), College Music Society, Music Teachers National Association, Musical Theatre Educators' Alliance member, and an adjudicator for NATS auditions and the George Shirley Vocal Competition.