Odyssey of an African Opera Singer: From Zwinde Township to the World Stage.

Musa Ngqungwana, bass-baritone and ’14 AVA alumnus has had an eventful couple of months. Not only has Musa been vigorously preparing for his now-ended and successful run as Colline in Washington National Opera’s La bohème, but he has also been busy publishing his autobiography, Odyssey of an African Opera Singer: From Zwinde Township to the World Stage.

How many budding opera stars can say that?

Since he only just graduated from AVA in May 2014, Musa described the summer after his four-year rigorous training as a healthy break.

“From May until July I did not sing one note,” he remembers.

Already slated to perform the philosopher Colline in Washington National Opera’s La bohème in November 2014, Musa had some time to himself. During this resting period, he found himself unable to quell thoughts of writing of his background, confessing to being “a nerd at heart” for his love of reading and writing.

After one unexpectedly productive morning between the hours of 3:00am and 6:00am in which Musa churned out what would later become four chapters of writing, he had found the need to detail the accounts of his life and had quickly established a writing process. What had started out as an early morning writing session soon grew into a workable writing process for Musa, and when he felt he had enough material, he shared the “skeleton” of the piece to then Marketing Director, Amanda Edelman, who encouraged his work and served as a shadow editor.

The publishing process was somewhat more involved, Musa recalls. He reached out to CEO of Hospital University of Pennsylvania, Delores Brisbon who actively encouraged him to publish his work. Musa, hesitant at first, mentions that he only wanted his “family, friends, and fans to see my work and that the autobiography not be sold for profit.” Encouraged by Brisbon however, Musa found that he could publish his work on Amazon.com and own the rights himself.

Editor Mary Nelson from Des Moines then looked at Musa’s draft. She told Musa that he had “completed the skeleton and now it was time to paint the house.” The next three months involved four different proofreading sessions in which one draft was sent to AVA patron Warren Herbst, who was able to provide helpful insight to Musa thanks to his writing and proofreading background.

“The experience wasn’t always easy,” Musa mentions. There were professors who didn’t take his work seriously and those who only looked at him through a singer’s lens. Despite this, however, Musa was soothed by the writing process, saying it was “therapeutic” and that he had “managed to internally balance things and have more freedom to live life without regrets.”

Once his autobiography was published and the hardbound books themselves were printed and ready for purchase, Musa set up a book signing due to the overwhelmingly positive response his sneak peek chapters received.

The signing will take place at the church Musa used to sing for during his stay at AVA. On Saturday, November 22, 2014 at First Presbyterian Church at 21st and Walnut Streets between 2 – 4pm. Musa will read from selected chapters and do a question and answer session with fans.


Book signing location link: http://bit.ly/1vqnrUZ

Support AVA by using this link to buy Musa’s book at Amazon.com: http://bit.ly/11Ddgjv

Musa’s website: http://bit.ly/1uxGXMh

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