• Fort Worth Opera

FWO INSIDER: Q&A Interview with Jonathan Walker-VanKuren

Updated: Feb 19

We recently interviewed former FWO-Lesley Artist Jonathan Walker-VanKuren about his upcoming recital, Songs My Mother Taught Me...

Left to Right: Erik Earl Larson, Jennifer Rowley, Janani Sridhar, and Jonathan Walker-VanKuren, with Maestro Joe Illick on piano at our 2019 Southern Soirée Gala
Q: What is the inspiration for your upcoming recital at The Modern Museum of Fort Worth?

A: Songs my mother taught me… has been a dream of mine for quite some time. Being an African American, these songs have truly touched my soul, and I feel like they need to be shared with everyone. Though it is not common knowledge, I was adopted and taken “home” at 21 days old by a single white woman and her two children. I have since been with that family; we have grown just a bit more with the addition of a loving father and many other siblings!


The reason I entitled this recital Songs my mother taught me… is because my mother in fact taught me the true meaning of these songs through her daily actions. She may not have sat down and played them on the piano for me or even sung them, but she taught me about the content, love, trials, tribulations, and the ultimate form of sacrifice. When I reached out to my mother years ago saying that I wanted to learn more about this, she was incredibly supportive and has been my biggest cheerleader even though she does not have much knowledge of African American spirituals.

Jonathan Walker-VanKuren
Q: What do you hope audiences might take away from this afternoon of song?

A: What I want most out of this recital is to show people of all skin colors, socioeconomic backgrounds, and sexual orientations that there will always be someone to love you - whether they are like you or not. Fort Worth Opera is a company that is revolutionizing what it means to be a “minority” in this classical art form by not only featuring minorities on stage but by performing works of music that feature the people of the great city of Fort Worth. So Fort Worth Opera, myself, and my amazing collaborator, Kyle Naig, would love to invite you to Songs my mother taught me… on February 22nd at 2 pm at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

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