Pellissippi State partners with Knoxville Opera to highlight Black music

Three artists with Knoxville Opera pose with Pellissippi State Audio Production Engineering instructor and students on Feb. 10, 2021
Knoxville Opera baritone Michael Rodgers and soprano Adia Evans, front row, have partnered with Pellissippi State to present The Black American Musical Experience online at 7 p.m. Feb. 19. Helping with the event, which was recorded Feb. 10, are (from left, back row) Audio Production Engineering student Audrey Smith, Knoxville Opera Artistic Director and pianist Brian Salesky, Audio Production Engineering instructor Jonathan Manness and Audio Production Engineering student Caleb Dennis.

Pellissippi State Community College invites the community to celebrate Black History Month next week with a virtual concert featuring Knoxville Opera artists. 

Knoxville Opera soprano Adia Evans and baritone Michael Rodgers will present The Black American Musical Experience at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, on Pellissippi State’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. The vocalists will be accompanied by pianist Brian Salesky, who also is the artistic director of Knoxville Opera. 

The concert is free and open to the public. 

During the pandemic Knoxville Opera has had to find new ways to serve our community outside the theater through collaboration and innovation,” said Knoxville Opera Executive Director Jason Hardy. We are so happy to collaborate with Pellissippi State in producing this program for Black History Month. 

The concert is sponsored by Pellissippi State’s Blount County, Division Street, Magnolia Avenue and Strawberry Plains campuses. The deans of the four campuses wanted to host a virtual event to celebrate Black History Month. 

Knoxville Opera soprano Adia Evans
Knoxville Opera soprano Adia Evans performs as part of The Black American Musical Experience, a free online concert presented by Pellissippi State.

I originally asked Knoxville Opera for a performance about Harriet Tubman, but our discussion morphed into a richer, more informative presentation highlighting the history of African American music, spanning a number of genres, composers and performers,” explained Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman. 

Partnering with Knoxville Opera to record the concert so that it can be presented virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic also gave Pellissippi State students  in the Media Technologies/Audio Production Engineering program the opportunity to practice their skills on a real project, she added. 

Opera is storytelling through voice,” said Hardy. It is important for us, now more than ever, to listen to the stories that are told in this important genre of music. We are glad that Pellissippi State recognizes the healing power of music to uplift our weary hearts and bring people together. 

For more information about other Pellissippi State events celebrating Black History Month, visit