YPA Meets With National Secretary of the National Negro Opera Company

Barbara Edwards Lee with YPA admirersYPA CEO, Dan Holland, along with interns John Burgess, a Coro Fellow, and Dawn Webb Turner, today met with the former National Secretary of the National Negro Opera Company, Barbara Edwards Lee.  The NNOC, founded in 1941 by Mary Cardwell Dawson, was a nationally-renowned black opera company.  Their first headquarters was at 7101 Apple Street, in Pittsburgh’s Lincoln-Lemington/Homewood neighborhood.   Ms. Lee was Dawson’s niece and served as the National Secretary for the company, which traveled all over the United States.  “Madame” Mary Cardwell Dawson, as she was known, taught a number of nationally-famous musicians, including Ahmad Jamal and Robert McFerrin, Sr. (the father of Bobby McFerrin).  Her National Negro Opera Company was the first all-black opera company in the United States.  The company folded in 1962, upon the death of Ms. Dawson.   The house at 7101 Apple Street is now a protected City of Pittsburgh historic landmark, thanks to the efforts of the Young Preservationists Association.  YPA also re-dedicated a PHMC historical marker outside the house, which had been ripped down in early 2007.