A long-time Kansas City Royals fan will soon live an unexpected dream.
Richard Gibson, a member of the Lyric Opera’s chorus, will sing “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning break of game two of the World Series on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.
Gibson, 33, an Iraqi War veteran, recently became the conductor of the opera’s Veterans Chorus. He also likes those Kansas City Royals.
“I’m a huge Royals fan,” he said Monday morning. “We immigrated to America on Dec. 23, 1985, so it was just after the Royals had won the World Series. But I’ve been watching them since.”
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Gibson was born in South Africa. His family immigrated to the United States when he was 5. The family eventually settled in Lee’s Summit. After graduating from high school, Gibson enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Music was always a prime interest and what he turned to upon leaving the Marines.
“I went back to South Africa and found my dad’s old voice teacher, who taught him to sing opera, and studied with him for about six months,” he said.
When he returned to Kansas City, he enrolled in UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. The effects of post-traumatic stress syndrome made it difficult to concentrate, he said, so he withdrew from the program. He still takes vocal lessons from his former teacher, Gustavo Halley.
Gibson’s affiliation with the Lyric Opera started in 2006, when he was awarded a part in the chorus for its production of “Aida.”
“That truly was life-changing,” he said. “That was my first opera. I’m now in my eighth season with them.”
And his role is expanding. Next month he will conduct the opera’s Veterans Chorus in a ceremony outside Liberty Memorial.
Music has not become his full-time livelihood — yet. Gibson is also a server at the Majestic Restaurant in downtown Kansas City.
“I need to make more income while I chase my dream,” he said.
And he considers Wednesday’s gig an honor and part of that dream.
“I’m not necessarily a big baseball fan,” he said, “but I love the Royals.”