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Lauryn McKenzie Nelson Mezzo-Soprano

Lauryn singing excerpts of African songs fromher Master's recital

Chicago Mezzo-Soprano Lauryn McKenzie Nelson is rapidly garnering attention for her uniquely rich, alto tone and full-body connection that allows her high notes to soar over orchestras. She recently received her Master of Music degree in vocal performance from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, following her Bachelor of Music in classical vocal performance from DePaul University in 2021.

Lauryn’s impressive accolades include encouragement awards in both the Chicago and Minnesota districts Laffont Competitions, winning the 2023 National Opera Association's Legacy Award for her outstanding performance in the Carolyn Bailey Argento Vocal Competition, and earning the Farwell Trust award from the Musician's Club of Women competition. She recently completed an apprenticeship with Sarasota Opera, where she covered the role of Mercedes in Bizet's Carmen, a role she is set to perform at the Florentine Opera in the 24/25 season, where she will be one of their Baumgartner studio artists. 

Her recent performances include role debuts as Mrs. Nolan in Menotti's The Medium and The Singer in Puccini's Manon Lescaut with The Opera Festival of Chicago. Lauryn has also showcased her talent in various roles, such as Grimgerde in Wagner's Die Walküre in Tundi Productions' summer festival “Wagner in Vermont,” The Medium in Christopher Cerrone's new opera In a Grove, 2nd Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and Bradamante in Handel’s Alcina.

Beyond opera, Lauryn's versatility shines through her performances as the alto soloist in Vivaldi's Gloria with the North Shore Choral Society and as a featured singer with The Adrian Dunn Singers, a gospel choir. With a repertoire encompassing Verdi, Brahms, Massenet, Heggie, Donizetti, Tchaikovsky, Price, and more, Lauryn's artistry is marked by a rich and diverse range, with a particular focus on Black storytelling.

Her journey as a cantor for masses, funerals, quinceañeras, memorials, weddings, and more spans almost 7 years, showcasing her versatility and commitment to her craft. Lauryn's dynamic stage presence and dedication to every performance cement her status as a rising star in the world of opera, captivating audiences worldwide.

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Chicago Classical Review

Katherine Buzard

“The Three Ladies was sung by Uma Singh, Lauryn Nelson, and Lillian Lansdell. In the trio, the singers were vocally well matched. The Act I quintet with the three ladies was particularly tight.”

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