Damian Norfleet is a contemporary vocalist, award-winning actor, creator, and collaborator who “brings a full range of emotions” (Boston Globe) and “commands the stage with a strong presence and powerful singing” (New York Times). Across spoken word, poetry, and art songs, Damian’s output explores language and phonemic awareness.
Damian is a classically trained musician and actor. His musical studies began at age 12 with the bassoon and saxophone. For the remainder of his grade school experience, Norfleet would continue to play in orchestras, symphonic bands, and drumlines. He also sang in choirs and studied voice privately. As a young artist, Damian served as the associate principal bassoonist of the Orchestra of the Pines; studied voice and vocal pedagogy with Dr. David Jones; attended masterclasses with Dalton Baldwin, Warren Jones, and Denyce Graves; and enjoyed a brief stint as a resident artist at the acclaimed Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. This was the moment when Norfleet turned his attention to acting. Immediately upon leaving AVA, Damian was accepted into the acting studio of actor/director Pete Pryor and later studied Shakespeare performance with Sybil Lines of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Norfleet traversed the United States as a vocalist and saxophonist with the national tour production of In the Mood, a 1940’s Musical Revue. He played the role of Smith in the 2012 Drama Desk Award-nominated production of The Threepenny Opera. In 2014, Damian portrayed Terrence Roberts in the world premiere of the play Little Rock, which earned the cast a Barrymore Award for Best Ensemble. Damian Norfleet performed with Andre Braugher in the feature film Emily & Tim, starring Olympia Dukakis, and was the featured performer at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Beacon of Liberty Award honoring Terrence McNally. Norfleet has performed principal roles with Glimmerglass Opera, Portland Opera, and appeared in concert at Lincoln Center. Damian regularly collaborates with two socially conscious, activist orchestras, The Dream Unfinished and Ensemble Pi.
In 2010 and 2011, Mr. Norfleet presented a vocal health seminar for the performers at Hong Kong Disney and participated in a performer symposium for young artists from Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Damian co-curated Love in Times of Alienation (2017) and Young, Gifted, and Black (2020) for the Concerts in the Heights ensemble, both presented at New York’s Lehman Art Gallery. Also in 2020, Damian was commissioned to write a piece for solo voice in response to Dr. Ibram Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist. 2021 began with Blessed, a collaboration with composer Courtney Bryan, visual artist Tiona Nekkia McClodden, soprano Janinah Burnett, and sound designer Rob Kaplowitz for Opera Philadelphia’s Digital Commission Series; and continued with a Spring collaborative workshop with the acclaimed Bread and Puppet Theater. Also in 2021, Norfleet has been commissioned to write a piece for voice and chamber ensemble and co-curate a program to be presented at Cleveland’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
Portrait by Tiona Nekkia McClodden