Betty Garcés says she started to sing when the sadness was too much for her heart to bear in silence.
A star in productions like Carmen, Le nozze di Figaro, Suor Angelica, La forza del destino, Turandot, La Bohème, Così fan tutte and Giulio Cesare, Betty is one of the most important opera singers of her native country, Colombia, and also a prominent soprano in the international scene. She grew surrounded by folkloric music rooted in both African and indigenous traditions, and also listening to salsa, which is a highly popular genre on the Pacific coasts of Colombia. You’d expect, with that background, to meet a cheerful person with an interest on the music she grew up with, but Betty is quite the contrary. Even today, she’s rather shy, maybe introverted, and she finds her words better when singing arias and lullabies.
Neither her quiet personality nor the social barriers that usually appear for black women in music had influence on the faith that her teachers Ivonne Giraldo and Francisco Vergara put in her, once they heard her and recognized the potential she had for opera singing. They introduced her to the genre and advised her to study overseas; Mr. Vergara even sorted the financial part himself so Betty could receive training in Germany. That enthusiasm helped Betty envision herself as a professional singer and eventually took her to where she is today.7
We wanted to share this story because Betty’s life is, in a way, a tale of breaking the shell: of personal struggles and difficulties like melancholy and depression; of the glass ceiling that afflicts the development of people in and out of the arts; of the stereotypes that could have type-casted Betty as only capable to perfom the tropical genres she grew up with. We strive to give to our members the support they need to get wherever they want in their music career because we know there are more women like Betty, who just need someone to see through and believe in order for them to shine.