The CTFCU Employee Spotlight is on Kendrick Williams, who manages our Cornelius Branch location. Kendrick is known for his eagerness to help our members and his cheery disposition! He is fresh off a performance with Opera Carolina and will tell us about that and more!
We know you are hot off a performance. Tell us a little bit about how it went.
OMG! It was amazing. Porgy & Bess was actually my very first opera that I performed in back in 2008 while in undergrad, and I sang the exact same role of “Jake,” so it was a full circle moment for sure to be able to perform it on a larger stage and for two sold out audiences. It was beautiful to listen to how I’ve grown and developed as an artist and musician.
Share with us how you became interested in opera.
Funny story is, I had no idea what opera was even after enrolling into college back in 2007 (inserts laugh). I enrolled as a Music Major at Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC wanting to sing in the choir after hearing them sing at my high school for a Black History Program in 2006. So, I was more interested in singing Gospel & Choral Music. Until I began studying voice with Dr. Lori Hicks, and she introduced me to my very first opera Il Trovatore by Verdi, at Opera Carolina here in Charlotte…. I felt like a kid in a candy store listening to these voices, costumes, the huge set pieces, and the orchestra. I had no idea where to focus lol, but I remember leaving thinking, “I can do this!” So, I did!
What is your favorite role you’ve played so far?
My favorite role thus far is going to be Simone in the opera Gianni Schicchi. This is my favorite because I got to play a 70-year-old character, and all of the wigs and aged makeup made me unrecognizable. It took me some time to adjust to the physical movements of an older person, but overall It was really fun to play!
What role did music play in your early life?
Music was and continues to play a very important role in my life. Growing up in a family where both parents are musically inclined, I had no choice; I say, lol. My dad plays piano, where he learned to play by ear, and my mom is a singer. We had an old Yamaha upright piano that sat in our living room, where we would sing and play to end all the family gatherings.
Have you always wanted to be a singer, or did the passion develop over time?
Well, I’ve always wanted to sing from a young age, but I wanted to be an anesthesiologist more than anything. I was always obsessed with the medical field but was always intimidated by the schooling that came with it, lol. But my heart was always a musician. As I studied more, my passion grew for it more.
What musician do you admire?
Jessye Norman is a classical musician I admire. She was a native of Augusta, GA, and she has set so many goals and paved a lot of ways for the African American community in the classical genre. She was a multi-Grammy award winner, along with several other awards and honors. The most important thing I loved about Mrs. Norman was she was always true to herself and her voice, and she made me feel as if I could accomplish anything regardless of where I grew up.
What’s your dream role?
Oooo, that’s a great question. Had you asked me this question 6 years ago, it would have been Scarpia from the opera Tosca. At this present moment, it is the comedic role of Count Almaviva in the opera Le nozze di Figaro. It’s a fun role that allows me to be very expressive and play on my natural everyday personality traits.
What training is required to get into Opera?
TIME, PATIENCE & PRACTICE!!! I got into training classically in 2008, and it is still a process. The voice is a forever-changing instrument, and you have to adapt daily. I’ve spent a lot of time & money studying with different teachers figuring out what techniques and teachers work the best for my voice from a growth aspect.
How did your relationship begin with Opera Carolina?
I auditioned from Opera Carolina in June of 2021 when I decided that I would be relocating to Charlotte. I had a few friends that were heavily involved with the company, and I knew I wanted to get back into singing more frequently after taking a four-year sabbatical. I auditioned and got offered a place in the chorus, and that turned into becoming a principal artist member, where I would get the opportunity to sing lead roles on the main stage.
What have you learned in training for opera/ performing that you apply to your everyday life?
Always be prepared and always be intentional! You never know when the opportunity is at your doorstep.
Do you have a go-to karaoke song? If so, what is it?
Surprisingly, I do not sing Karaoke, lol. I was told it was for non-singers, but I enjoy watching others sing and give it their all.
What’s your favorite part of being a Branch Manager at CTFCU?
My favorite part about being a Branch Manager is being able to build relationships and learning from, and about my teammates. I learned a long time ago that as a leader, your team comes to work to be led, not to be managed. I take that lesson with me as I learn more and more about them, and that allows them to be able to create trust with me that makes for a smoother managing style.
What are three words you would use to describe our credit union?
Persistent, Fearless & Versatile
If you were to write a memoir about your life, what would you title it?
I would title it: “Ready or Not!”
We can’t wait to see what the world offers Kendrick. He is a true testament to what fearlessness and kindness can do in your life. We loved showing off one of the great faces that make up our team at Carolinas Telco FCU.