Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


African-American Studies

First Advisor

Lia Bascomb

Second Advisor

Maurice Hobson

Third Advisor

Marva Griffin Carter


Throughout history, African-American women classical singers have been able to have successful careers. Mattiwilda Dobbs was a pioneer in opera. She was the first African-American woman to sing at La Scala Opera House in Milan. Dobbs was also the first African-American woman to sing a lead romantic role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Throughout her career, she was very vocal about race and class issues in the United States. This thesis explores her words to analyze and understand how race, class, and gender affected her life and career and to understand how she fits into the larger discussion of African-American women opera singers.