The American bass-baritone, Jason S. McKinney, studied at Whitefish Bay High in Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he studied voice with soprano Marilyn Taylor and tenor Glenn Siebert, conducting with Maestro James Allbritten, and composing with Kenneth Frazelle. Whilst in school he was the recipient of the Helen Odom scholarship, the Music Dean’s Talent scholarship, and the Chancellor’s Grant for Excellence. He was the winner of the 2001 and 2002 Civic Music Association of Milwaukee’s Harold Levin scholarship competition and was awarded the Judges Choice award at the 2001 Metropolitan Opera’s district competition. In 2004, he won that competition in the South Carolina District and continued on to place second in the Southeastern Regional Finals.
Jason McKinney has had the opportunity to premier new works by Kenneth Frazelle, Shelley Olson, Daniel Sonnenberg, Chandler Carter and Lawrence Dillon. He has gone on to perform at such prestigious venues as The Kennedy Center, The White House, The Semper Opera House in Dresden Germany, The Hamburgische Staatsoper, The Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, Germany, Opera Kommische in Berlin, Germany, Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Sicily, and The Theatre Carre in Amsterdam Netherlands.
As a young person Jason McKinney was educated in Judaica at the Hillel Academy in Fox Point, Wisconsin. There he was first introduced to Jewish music, and that exposure influenced his love of music spurring him to learn a musical instrument. As a member of a Boy Scout explorer post Jason learned to play the Albert System clarinet in the New Orleans style and eventually was invited to play with the prestigious Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the French quarter. He spent many hours with the Milwaukee area Boys & Girls club, playing football, singing in choirs and performing for sporting events. He eventually earned a scholarship for university, and helped to train younger children how to play new Orleans Jazz.
On the stage Jason McKinney has performed with numerous opera companies in the USA and in Europe. Some of his favorite roles are the title role in Porgy & Bess, W.A. Mozart's Don Giovanni, and W.A. Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Colline in Puccini’s La Boheme, Olin Blitch in Carlisle Floyd’s Sussanah, and Crown in the Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. He is well known as a quick study and has been called upon to be a last minute replacement on many occasion, sometimes being required to perform, on as little as eight hours notice, a role he did not know before.
As a concert soloist Jason McKinney has been featured with the North Carolina Symphony, the Eugene symphony and has performed to critical acclaim in Europe, Mexico the USA and Australia. When not on the stage he sings as the cantor in his synagogue in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and composes Jewish liturgical music for Temple Emmanuel in Winston-Salem. He currently lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He sing in the Choir of Centenary United Methodist Church (since September 2000); Cantorial Soloist at Temple Bnai Israel (since 2007); and was Vocal Instructor at Separk Music (August 2011-December 2012).