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NFL opera singer is 'charismatic performer'

By Jordan Wright
On January 24, 2011

The Texas A&M University-Commerce Music Department presented baritone opera singer Lawrence Harris and professional pianist Renee Guerrero in concert at 7:30 pm on Jan. 21. The concert took place in the Music Building Finney Concert Hall. Admission was open to the public and free of charge as Harris, accompanied by his wife Guerrero on piano, performed a selection of musical pieces by Italian composer Francesco Paolo Tosti, as well as American musical pieces of their selection.

Attendees began to gather around the concert hall at 6:30 pm, waiting for the concert hall to open. Once the crowd was allowed to be seated at 7:30 pm, the performance was preceded by a speech from the event coordinator and A&M-Commerce Director of Choral Activities Dr. Randall Hooper.

In addition to introducing Harris and Guerrero, Hooper spoke of his friendship with Harris, whom Hooper has long supported in his pursuit of a musical career.

"It's been fun to watch his career mature and be a part of that by cheering him on," Hooper said. "I'm just thrilled that he could share his music with Commerce."

Originally an NFL player from 1975 to 1983, Harris left the game to pursue his passion for singing, which he claims to have had for most of his life.

"I started singing when I was very small," Harris said. "When my career was over when I was injured, I came back to music because music was always there for me."

After the performance of Totsi's musical pieces, several American selections chosen by Harris were featured, such as "Anything You Can Do" and "An American Trilogy."

In addition to his solo performances, Harris was later joined on stage by his son and daughter for certain selections. One selection involving a duet with his daughter garnered particular praise from the crowd.

"His 14-year-old daughter's singing was a knockout" former Head of the Music Department Gene Lockhart said in regards to their performance of "Anything You Can Do."

Many attendees expressed their enjoyment of what they found to be a quality performance by Harris and Guerrero, as well as Harris' attitude toward his current path in life.

"I thought he was wonderfully diverse in his singing and he's a beautifully charismatic performer," concert attendee Nancy King said. "I just met him and I already feel like I know him because he's so kind."

Many other audience members echoed similar praise for Harris.

"I enjoyed the great variety and the education that went along with the performance," attendee Elaine Hooper said.

"(The performance) was beautiful and versatile," audience member Zach Stewart said.

"He was a great singer," attendee Corey Andrew said. "It was very cool to see that a professional football player could become a professional opera singer."

Harris said he enjoyed performing at Commerce as well, and cited the well-constructed concert hall as one particular reason for his

successful performance.

"Tonight's performance was a real treat for all of us," Harris said. "We were in a very state-of-the-art, beautiful hall, the acoustics were wonderful, the piano was gorgeous, the audience was wonderful and we were happy to be here."

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