Joyous Day Davis doesn't have years of operatic training, an encyclopedic knowledge of classical music history and forms, or a resume bristling with roles written by Puccini and Bizet.
But what she lacks, operatically speaking, she makes up for with an unvarnished enthusiasm for performance and a remarkable, natural voice . It's a potent combination that has earned her a spot in the University of South Carolina's graduate music program and an opportunity to spend a month studying opera in Italy.
Ms. Davis performs Sunday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 605 Reynolds St.
One of six children in a musical family, Ms. Davis grew up performing with her siblings in church.
"It was kind of a Partridge Family thing," she said with a giggle. "So all I knew, really, was contemporary Christian music. I never even had a voice lesson. It wasn't until I got to college that I discovered that I didn't breathe right, didn't stand up straight - that I wasn't all that. I was just clueless."
Ms. Davis graduated with a degree in vocal performance from North Greenville College. It was while studying at the small South Carolina school that she became interested in classical music. After graduation, Sandra Walker, a local mezzo-soprano who has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, continued Ms. Davis's musical education.
"It was Sandra that got me interested in opera," she said. "It was something I always wanted to try, but never thought I would be good at. So we got to talking and she suggested that I go back to school and get some training. So I auditioned for a graduate assistantship at USC. Not only did they offer me the assistantship, they offered me this chance to study in Italy."
Although the school pays for the scholastic fees in Italy, Ms. Davis has to come up with travel and living expenses. She thought a concert not only would be a good way to raise the funds but also would offer her an opportunity to perform with some local musicians who have supported her dream. They include Ms. Walker, tenor Arthur Wilson, flutist Christy Tyson (Ms. Davis's mother) and pianist/organist Laura Evans.
"It's so exciting," Ms. Davis said. "It's funny, because every time I sing I get so nervous. But then, once I begin, it becomes fun and I just know it's what I want to do for the rest of my life. I can make people laugh, make them cry and make them think. It's just the most exciting experience."
WHO: Joyous Day Davis
WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 605 Reynolds St.
ADMISSION: Free. An offering will be taken to offset costs of Ms. Davis's trip to study in Italy.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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