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A classic move

CHART-TOPPER: Noah Stewart

NOAH STEWART made history last month by becoming the first black musician to top the UK classical albums chart, since it was created 25 years ago.

The New York-born tenor, who made his professional debut at the San Francisco Ppera House as Macduff in Verdi’s hit opera Macbeth in 2007, has quickly risen to fame in the classical music scene, and recently reached the top of the classical charts with his debut album, Noah.

Currently starring in Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers at the Michigan Opera Theatre, Stewart shows no signs of resting on his laurels, even after achieving such a momentous feat. Instead, the 33-year-old remains grounded and believes he has room for improvement.

“When you are in the music industry you can forget how life is as a normal person; in dealing with the social and economical issues that face normal people,” he says. “Things have changed and I am a different person, but I have retained the bigger part of what is me.

“I’m supposed to say I have been waiting for this moment all my life, but that’s not true.

It just kind of happened. I feel like a part of me is proud and happy but it feels odd, because I didn’t think being number one in the charts would be as significant as it has been.

He continues: “I’m still me, getting up everyday and going to work and the gym. Part of me feels like my life is in two; there’s the career that I have and then there’s me. I’m still learning how to embrace it all.”

And who could blame the singer if he changed? It has only been a few years since Stewart was working as a receptionist at the opera house he now regularly receives standing ovations in.

“The last two years have gone by so fast! I feel like me, but a portion of me has had to adapt to my surroundings at warp speed. I made debuts at different theatres, I have also made debuts in different roles. It feels like I’m on a rollercoaster and I can’t close my eyes because I will miss something, but I’m enjoying it.”

And according to Stewart, his success is all in the hands of the Almighty.

“It’s important for me to let God lead me wherever he wants. There are places in the world I want to go and things I want to do, but it’s important for me to let God take me there, because whenever I have done that it has worked in my benefit.”

The meteoric emergence of the opera star is also benefiting black people who are new to classical music. In fact, Stewart has received many fan messages from people who normally would never attend the opera, but have been introduced to the theatres through his music.

“I’ve received many tweets and Facebook messages from people, especially people of colour,” he says. “Some people commented that it was their first time in the opera and they loved it; I’m happy to be a part of that. People were saying they didn’t think they would like opera but they liked me. Opera is a really great experience, but it doesn’t stop with me. I’m a small spoke in the wheel but I’m happy to be in this movement.”

Noah’s self-titled album is out now on Decca Records. For more information visit www.noahofficial.com

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