Student Highlights: Miatta Lebile

Photo of Miatta Lebile

Miatta Lebile in Barnes Hall. Her future plans include graduate school for vocal performance and a career as a singer in the opera or on Broadway.

Major: Music
College: Arts and Sciences
Hometown: Houston

Why did you choose Cornell?
I came to Cornell one summer to take a class and completely fell in love with the beauty here.

Main Cornell extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?
Singing, singing, singing. Freshman year, the day after I moved in, I auditioned for the Cornell Chorus, and Professor Scott Tucker (the chorus conductor) exclaimed, "You sound like you are 24!" I instantly loved him and fell in love with the chorus soon after. At Cornell, I have also had the opportunity to sing with the Chamber Singers, the Cornell Chordials, in recitals and, this semester, in an opera. It is what I do, what I breathe, what I love. Music is what gets me going, and I don't know what I would do without it.

Your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
Attending Mannes College [a division of The New School], a small but amazing conservatory in New York City, last semester [where Lebile was Cornell's first student in an exchange program with Mannes]. I used to have my life all figured out ... all that changed. At Mannes, I learned the amount of time that I really need to be spending in the practice rooms and learning the texts of songs well.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?
My voice teacher, Professor Judith Kellock. I have never met anyone who pushed me harder. So many times she would suggest something that I did not want to do or had not even thought of; somehow she would convince me, and I was always thankful in the end. It was her idea to go to Mannes, which changed my life; her idea to go to SongFest (a summer program in Malibu, Calif.) and not give up because of its cost. I honestly do not know what kind of singer I would be right now if not for her constantly believing in me.

What Cornell-related scholarships did you receive? Were any of these critical to your ability to come to Cornell?
The Pauline and Irving Tanner's Dean Scholarship, which paid for my travel and room fees for SongFest. If not for the grant, I would not have been able to attend the program.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
The time with the Chordials, [where] I have always felt like I was part of a family. I loved performing with them, having the annual soul food dinners and watching horrible movies with them. And ... the bowling club, which rocked my socks off. I loved it!

What are your plans for next year and beyond?
Take a two- to three-year break from school to work and take voice lessons in New York, then go to graduate school for vocal performance. I want to be either an opera singer or sing on Broadway. It is going to be tough, but I think it's worth it.