Dr. Grace Hackett hails from Barbados, where she started singing at an early age, at Calvary Moravian Church and St. Michael’s Secondary School. Dr. Hackett said her singing and musical abilities were molded by Christopher Spencer, the late Dr. John Fletcher and the late Doris Provençal.
She said much of her early development came as a member of the Calvary Moravian Church’s Junior Choir, under the direction of Arthur Maynard and the late Bertram Morris. It was in that forum that she sang her first solo. Dr.Hackett said Morris and Maynard encouraged her studies with Spencer and Dr. Fletcher, “since they stressed the importance of sight-singing and music history for singers.”
Dr. Hackett says her musical skills were further enhanced at the Manhattan School of Music and Mercy College in New York City, where she gained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Voice Performance, Music Education and Administration. She received her doctorate from Trident University International in California.
She has performed in the Metropolitan tri-state area, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Latin America in opera, oratorio, concert and recital and has toured extensively in Holland, Switzerland, Austria and Germany, under Schweitzer Tournee Opera Company, in the production of Carmen Jones by composer Bizet.
Dr. Hackett can be heard on CD and video in “Spirituals in Concert” and “A Carnegie Hall Christmas,” with sopranos Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman and Frederica Von Stade, under the direction of Andre Previn and James Levine.
Besides providing her with a “superb high school education and more than adequate preparation for life in the outside world,” Dr. Hackett says the St. Michael School family in her native Barbados provided her with the opportunity to study and develop her gift of song.
She also credits her life’s successes to her parents, the late FitzHerbert and Vivian Hackett, “who, with Christopher Spencer’s bidding, made sure that I had access to voice, piano and dance classes.”
“I thank them for making one of my dreams come true,” Dr. Hackett said, lauding her brother, Dr. Christopher Hackett, also a Caribbean Life Impact Award honoree, “who has always been supportive and nurturing, and who encouraged me to persevere, because he understood the difficulties that artists encountered in ‘The Big Apple.’
“I am, indeed, humbled, honored and grateful that my dear friends at Caribbean Life have recognized my gifts and my contribution to our society, and have found my work worthy of honor,” she added. “You have chosen to honor my work while I am still alive and cognizant of my surroundings. This touches me most deeply, because some individuals are often honored and memorialized posthumously, and unable to appreciate this gesture.”
Dr. Hackett said “this loving and beautiful gesture” inspires her to “achieve even greater heights in the Almighty’s good name.”