Alfonzo Cooper Jr has operatic dreams
As a child, Alfonzo Cooper Jr loved noise.
Always banging, stomping or flicking to create a new sound, Cooper was Born in Germany while his father was in the military and raised in Waynesboro, Georgia, a small rural town near the eastern coast of the state. Brought up in the black baptist church, he was taught the oral tradition, or slave music. These are the songs that he fell in love with and would then shape who he was in the future.
“They meant a lot to you, and they mean a lot more now in my current age, a lot more then they did back then because they’re a source of inspiration,” Cooper said.
The music of the church influenced Cooper so much that he decided to pursue music in college. After one year at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, he decided to transfer to Albany State University. There he meet his teacher and biggest influence, Leroy Bynum Jr.
Bynum gave Cooper confidence in his voice, and taught him to trust it.
“My voice has done a lot for me,” Cooper said.
Bynum studied with German singing great Dietrich Fisher-Dieskau. Something Cooper is very proud of is being one teacher removed from one of the greats.
During his time as an undergrad, he found his greatest love, opera. He didn’t hear his first opera until he was a junior at Albany State. Going back to noise and sound as a child, something about the opera resonated with him.
“Opera is the pinnacle of all vocal arts,” Cooper said. “It demands athleticism of the voice and requires both high vocal demands as well as high acting demands.”
Opera, he explained, requires you to be at your best at the drop of a hat because the industry is so cut-throat.
“I’m always one of a challenge,” Cooper said. “But it has required a lot of sacrifices.
“It’s the Olympics of singing. You train, you train, you train, you do other Operas to train for the big thing.”
Every opera singers dream, Cooper said, is to preform at the MET (Metropolitan Opera House) in New York City. This is Cooper’s goal too.
He plans on finishing his degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, continuing to study, become a teacher and then continue to audition for a chance at making it big.
If he doesn’t, he said he will be perfectly fine with teaching, just like his teacher Leroy Bynum.
For now, Cooper trusts in his path.
“If I wake up singing, then I’m supposed to be a singer,” Cooper said.