Dr. Simon Estes

​Dr. Simon Estes has been a guest lecturer at DMACC since the fall of 2016.

Dr. Estes is a world-renowned opera singer who has given several classes and lectures around the world including at Harvard University, Duke University, Russian Music Society in Moscow and at the University of Iowa, Wartburg College and Iowa State University.   

He has played more than 100 roles in opera and sung in 84 different opera houses. He’s performed with 90 of the world’s best conductors and 115 different orchestras. He has sung for six U.S. presidents and several dignitaries, including Nelson Mandela. Dr. Estes has performed with Placido Domingo, Ray Charles, Barry Manilow, Whitney Houston and several other notable artists.

Dr. Estes is featured in The National Museum of African American History and Culture which opened September 24th, 2016 in Washington D.C. It’s the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.

Dr. Estes grew up in Centerville, Iowa. His father was a coal miner and his grandfather a slave. Estes grew up during times of segregation. He recalls not being able to eat in some restaurants, racial slurs and restricted swimming hours for African American children at the local pool because they weren’t allowed to swim with the white kids.

Estes attended the University of Iowa where he became the first African American member of the University’s Old Gold Singers. Estes then earned a scholarship to the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York City.

In 1978, he was the first African American male singer to appear at the famed Bayreuth Festival in Germany where he played the title role of the Dutchmen in Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchmen. He is well-known for the role and played it in several opera houses. Video of him playing the Dutchmen will be on display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.