• ‘Redneck Opera Zinger’ follows unusual path from Baylor to stardom

    Jay Hunter MorrisNearly everyone has envisioned the scenario: Due to an injury, sickness or surprise, you’re suddenly thrust into a starring role. Do you have what it takes? Can you rise to the occasion?

    Jay Hunter Morris, BMEd ’86, lived out that very situation, and his performance elevated him to star status in the world of opera.

    That’s one story he shares, along with just how a self-described “redneck” from Paris, Texas, became a famous opera tenor in his book, Diary of a Redneck Opera Zinger. You’ll have to read the book to discover why he’s a “zinger” and not a “singer,” or to find out just how old he was when he actually saw his first opera.

    After majoring in music education at Baylor, Morris, the son of a Baptist music minister, became a music minister himself at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano before embarking on a career in the Christian music industry. Many years (and a few unexpected turns) later, he found himself with the legendary Metropolitan Opera in New York City, where he starred as Siegfried in The Ring Cycle, widely considered to be the most demanding role in the most demanding opera ever written.

    You could say Morris fell into the role by accident; he received the chance to portray Siegfried only after the actor ahead of him got sick. But presented with the opportunity, the Baylor grad excelled and rose to stardom. (Click here to see sample video clips.)

    Morris’ book tells the story of his experiences, which serve as a reminder that “you don’t have to grow up in London or Berlin to be great in opera … If you work hard and pursue your dreams, then you might make it all the way to the Met.”

    Not bad for a redneck from East Texas.

    Sic ’em, Jay!

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