The University of Iowa

In the news: UI grad Simon Estes used his voice to change the world

November 21st, 2019

Born in 1938, Estes studied at the University of Iowa and, briefly, at Julliard. Kelly McGowan / The Register

Tammie Walker, Press-Citizen

Most people have heard the phrase “Music is the universal language.” 

Even without understanding text or context, even without using text at all, music still speaks to each of us and brings us to a commonplace of shared experience. By listening more than we talk, and using our voice intentionally, the arts can be a powerful vehicle for positive change.

The voice of Simon Estes is an example of music fostering humanity, opportunity and positive change on an international scale.

Born in Centerville, Iowa in 1938 as the grandson of a slave and son of a coal miner, Simon Estes went on to become one of the world’s most recognized and celebrated opera singers. From his musical beginnings at Second Baptist Church, to his study at the University of Iowa and Juilliard, to his performances in 84 of the world’s greatest opera houses and performances with 115 orchestras, Estes never lost sight of his roots and humanity and used his voice.