"Damian Norfleet is a gifted improvisational singer, [performer-composer], actor, and social justice activist who has occupied a rare multi-dimensional space in the performing arts" (I Care If You Listen). Norfleet “brings a full range of emotions” (Boston Globe) and commands both stage and screen with a strong presence and powerful singing. Across speech, poetry, and song; his output focuses on space, language and phonemic awareness.
Barrymore Award-winning and IRNE Award-nominated artist Damian Norfleet is a 2024 Gabriela Ortiz Composing Fellow and has been seen in concert at Avery Fisher Hall, Bruno Walter Auditorium, Merkin Hall, Roulette, National Sawdust, New York Society for Ethical Culture, The Times Center, and the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, to name a few. Damian’s been a guest artist at the New England Conservatory, the Bread and Puppet Theater, and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. He conducted a sound and movement masterclass at Bennington College, a vocal health seminar for the performers at Hong Kong Disney, and presented at a symposium for student artists from Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Norfleet has workshopped, developed, and directed new works with the John Duffy Institute for New Opera, American Opera Projects, and the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU|Tisch. In 2022, Damian was a consultant to Lighthouse Artspace Minneapolis to reimagine the space for future performances, exhibits, and residencies. He co-curated Young, Gifted, and Black (2020) and Love in Times of Alienation (2017) with the Concerts in the Heights ensemble, both presented at New York’s Lehman Art Gallery. 2021 began with Blessed for Opera Philadelphia’s Digital Commission Series, 2022 began with a collaboration with thirteen time Grammy Award-winning producer Judith Sherman, and 2023 began with Praise Pecola!, a commissioned piece for voice and bass clarinet inspired by Toni Morrison's seminal work The Bluest Eye. The duet Praise Pecola! had its world premiere at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center by clarinetist Moran Katz and vocalist Damian Norfleet during Ensemble Pi's concert Banned Books on May 15th, 2023.
Norfleet has been a guest artist with the International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Pi, Anonymous Ensemble, Dream Unfinished Orchestra, University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra; and performed principal roles with Glimmerglass Opera, Portland Opera, American Opera Project, and Opera Philadelphia (Opera On Film). He traversed the United States as the lead actor, vocalist, and saxophone soloist of the nationally touring production In the Mood: A 1940s Musical Revue and played the role of Smith in the 2012 Drama Desk Award-nominated production of The Threepenny Opera. In 2014, Damian performed in an experimental opera at the Guggenheim Museum as part of the Works & Process performing arts series. Soon thereafter, he portrayed Terrence Roberts in the world premiere of the play Little Rock, which earned him and the cast a Barrymore Award for Best Ensemble. In 2020, Damian played Scar in Hong Kong Disney's Festival of the Lion King. On screen, Damian starred in the comedy series Co-operation with Lucy Goranson and Phoebe Robinson, partnered with Andre Braugher in the feature film Emily & Tim (starring Olympia Dukakis), and is currently cast as Pharaoh Akhenaten in the afro-futuristic feature film trilogy Protector of the Gods (in pre-production). In 2012, Damian Norfleet was honored to be the featured performer at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Beacon of Liberty Awards honoring Terrence McNally. Damian's been blessed to work with amazing artists like record producer Judith Sherman, composers George Lewis, Courtney Bryan, Nkeiru Okoye, Carman Moore, Yosvany Terry, and Trevor Weston; visual artists Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Peter Schumann, and Katya Popova; costume designer Miodrag Guberinic, sound designer Rob Kaplowitz, conductors Vimbayi Kaziboni, David Bloom, and David Charles Abell; stage directors Diane Paulus and Lars Jan, and regularly collaborates with two socially conscious, activist orchestras: The Dream Unfinished and Ensemble Pi.
As a young artist, Damian served as the associate principal bassoonist of the Orchestra of the Pines; studied vocal pedagogy with Dr. David Jones and Dr. Robert Sataloff; music theory and composition with Darrell Holt; attended masterclasses with Dalton Baldwin and Warren Jones; was mentored by Finnish operatic bass-baritone Tom Krause; and enjoyed a brief stint as a resident artist at the acclaimed Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. This was the moment when Mr. Norfleet turned his attention to acting. Immediately upon leaving AVA, Mr. Norfleet was accepted into the acting studio of actor/director Pete Pryor at the University of the Arts and later studied Shakespeare performance with Sybil Lines of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Fun fact: Damian studied West African dance in Philadelphia with Jeannine Osayande.