Who is Renée Fleming? Everything you need to know about the 2018 commencement speaker

    Northwestern announced on Tuesday that critically-acclaimed opera singer Rénee Fleming will give the commencement address in June. If, upon reading the announcement from the university, you got nervous because you felt like you were the only person who didn’t immediately recognize her name, don’t worry - you weren’t. Here are Fleming’s claims to fame:

    1. She’s a four-time Grammy Award winner. She has won for Best Classical Crossover Album, Best Classical Vocal Performance and Best Classical Vocal Solo.
    2. She was the first classical artist to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. Justin Timberlake who?
    3. She received the National Medal of Arts - the highest award the American government gives to artists - in 2012. *Cut to tear-jerking videos of Obama bestowing medals upon winners*
    4. She has served as the first creative consultant for Lyric Opera of Chicago since December 2010. Yes, this is as fancy as it sounds.
    5. She’ll be on Broadway in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel this spring. She’ll star as Nettie Fowler.
    6. She performed at Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. She sang from a balcony at Buckingham Palace, which is simultaneously my greatest dream and worst nightmare.
    7. In 2014, she led a master class featuring four students from the Bienen School of Music. Ah, Bienen.
    8. She has received Germany’s Cross of the Order of Merit, the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, Sweden’s Polar Prize and Honorary Membership in the Royal Academy of Music in London. I haven’t even visited this many countries.
    9. Her album Signatures was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress for the National Recording Registry in 2017. A certified bop.

    So, when your parents inevitably ask who is speaking at graduation this year, you can airily explain that her name is Renée Fleming, and yes, she is kind of a big deal.


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