Born: February 25, 1934 - Radford, Virginia, USA
Died: December 29, 2013 - New York City, New York, USA
The American soprano and music teacher, Mary Evelyn Bruce, was a daughter of the late Robert Harvey Bruce and Gertrude Hutchinson Bruce. She was born during a snowstorm on February 25, 1934, and was called "Snowball" by men at the Radford shop of the Norfolk and Western Railway where her father worked as a machinist. During her career as a soprano soloist a friend called her "Songbird". Her first love was the piano, and her mother her first teacher. A graduate of Dublin High School in 1950, she studied piano and voice privately, gave her talents to the Fairlawn Baptist and Presbyterian churches for worship services and cantatas at Christmas and Easter. At Radford College, she was a member of Kappa Delta Pi and Pi Gamma Mu honor societies. Her majors were piano, voice, and public school music with a minor in band instruments. She graduated in 1954 from Radford College and later was named outstanding alumna in 1964. She received a Master of Music degree from Westminster Choir College in New Jersey and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.
Mary Evelyn Bruce became a professional singer and made her Carnegie Hall debut which was followed by engagements on four continents including major college and university recitals and opera performances in the Usa and Canada. She recorded as soprano soloist with the Robert Shaw Chorale and was on the State Department tour with the Robert Shaw Chorale in the USSR in 1962. She made several recordings with them, including "The Robert Shaw Chorale On Tour" (RCA Victor Red Seal LP, 1963) and "Christmas With The Robert Shaw Chorale" ż(2-CD, RCA Special Products). She made four tours with the Columbus Boy Choir directed by Donald Bryant.
As a music educator Mary Evelyn Bruce built the music program for Trinity School in New York since she arrived in 1967, and retired after 42 years. She wrote scripts for chapel services and taught diction. A serious musician, she kept current and taught a "rap" style naming in order all the presidents of the USA.
Mary Evelyn Bruce became the soprano soloist at 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church for 24 years and worked with Dave Brubeck in his sacred music cantatas. She served as soprano soloist at Brick Church on Park Avenue for 14 years. She enjoyed a rich and varied life in the world of the arts
Mary Evelyn Bruce died on December 29, 2013 in New York City after a brief illness, at age 79. She is survived by her sister, Shirley Anne Bruce of Radford; a brother, Robert H. Bruce Jr. and his wife Patsy Harless Bruce of Christiansburg; nephews, Mark Bruce and son Jared, Blacksburg, and Gary and Nicole Amos Bruce and their children Cody, Rachael, Landon, and Leighann, Christiansburg; a cousin, Duane Mason Hutchinson Freeborn, of Beaverton, Ore.; and dear friends Betty Lou Russell Blasch, of Virginia Beach, and Virginia Siner Arey who were like sisters to Mary Evelyn.