Let's celebrate Portia White's 110th birthday and remember a fantastic Nova Scotia talent.
Internationally recognized in her day and now revered as part of Canadian heritage, Portia White’s legacy is infused with many meanings. For the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, which celebrated 77 years of supporting aspiring artists of all disciplines on May 2, 2021, Portia White represents its catalyst.
In 1944, members of the Halifax Ladies Club, along with voice teacher Dr. Ernesto Vinci, successfully advocated the city of Halifax and the province of Nova Scotia for unparalleled financial support towards her studies in New York. Portia White ascended to become one of the best singers of the 20th century. The Talent Trust, with the help of the Dalhousie Music in Medicine HEALS Program, supports her legacy through the Portia White Award for a Nova Scotia voice student.
The province recognized the difference their support made in Portia White’s career and founded the Nova Scotia Talent Trust in 1944, to help other deserving and talented Nova Scotians succeed.
More about Portia White:
On March 13, 1944, Portia White delivered her breakthrough concert that changed her own life and many more. Portia White became the first Canadian ever to perform at the New York Town Hall.
The concert initiated her ascent to become one of the best singers of the 20th century, a particularly incredible triumph considering the systemic racism of segregation.
Internationally recognized in her day, Portia White is now revered as part of Canadian heritage. Her legacy represents the catalyst for the Talent Trust and its 77-year commitment to aspiring artists across the province. Since 1985, many deserving vocalists have been awarded the Talent Trust’s Portia White Award, including Shanice Skinner and Reeny Smith.
Read the Talent Trust editorial “Celebrate Portia White’s Legacy,” published in The Coast in 2019.
You can also here Portia White speaking about life in Toronto in 1958 here. And listen to her here: https://youtu.be/Ibk3DZF-CtY
In 2011, Reeny Smith helped us celebrate Portia's 100th Birthday by singing "Think on Me" at the annual Portia White Award Concert in front of the Honorable Myann E. Francis Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Portia's family members and a packed church. A special moment! Reeny's rendition can be found here:
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