Barbara Smith Conrad PBS

Black History: “Niggra-Girl” Opera Singer’s Story Told In ‘When I Rise’

When I Rise is the inspiring story of Barbara Smith Conrad, a gifted black mezzo-soprano who, as a music student at the University of Texas, found herself in a civil rights storm that changed her life forever.

Barbara had transferred from Prairie View A&M University in the fall of 1956 as part of the first racially integrated undergraduate class at the University of Texas.

Shortly after beginning her new life in Austin, Barbara’s innate musical talent attracted the attention of her professors in the School of Music, and she was cast as the romantic lead in the campus rendition of Dido and Aeneas — opposite a white male student.

Read more about Barbara’s story on Independent Lens and watch the preview below.

Watch the full episode.

Follow Independent Lens on Facebook and Twitter at @IndependentLens for more amazing stories like Barbara’s. Keep up with this film on the When I Rise Facebook Page.

Thanks, Daddy. :)