Lyle Stirling, Davis County music educator, and Simon Estes, world-renowned opera star from Centerville, discuss bringing Estes’ “Roots & Wings” tour to Davis County.

The Sept. 18, 2019 Bloomfield Democrat announced that world-renowned opera star Simon Estes would be performing in Bloomfield as part of his 99-county “Roots & Wings” tour.

Little did the committee know that a pandemic would strike and the concert planned for April 2020 would have to be postponed.

Now, two years later, planning has resumed and Estes’ concert has been rescheduled for 2 p.m. Oct. 24 in the DCHS gym.

The concert is partially funded by the Davis County Community Foundation, Van Buren County Foundation, an the Hoaglin Foundation.

Tickets for bleacher seating for the general public are now on sale at the Davis County High School Office and First Iowa State Bank in Keosauqua at a cost of $10 for adults and $5 for students.

Estes will be joined on stage by tenor James Thompson, accompanist Jodi Goble, the Davis County High School Choir under the direction of Christopher Gingerich and the Van Buren County High School Choir under the direction of Tracy Shaw. The choirs will join Estes in the Wilhousky arrangement of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” as the finale of the concert

Estes, the grandson of slaves, grew up in Centerville, graduated from Centerville High School and went on to the University of Iowa as a pre-med student.

While at the U of I, Estes’ superior vocal talents were discovered and he was offered a full-ride scholarship to attend Julliard University, one f the world’s leading music schools.

From there, Estes traveled to Europe where he made a name for himself on the opera stage. (At that time, it was very difficult for African Americans to be cast in major roles in the U.S.)

Now in his 80s, Estes looks back on a career that has given him the opportunity to perform with 115 symphony orchestras and in 84 opera houses worldwide.

Grateful for an extraordinary career that elevatd him from the position of a poor, black kid in Centerville to a world-renowned opera star, Estes is now working to inspire and provide educational opportunities for young people around the globe as well as curb malaria in African countries.

One of the ways in which he is achieving that objective is through his “Roots & Wings” tour with a goal of performing in all 99 Iowa counties.

The tour is designed to raise funds for the Simon Estes Foundation, which in turn will donate 50% of the $15,000 fee back to Davis County and Van Buren County High Schools for college scholarships in any discipline. The remainder of the funds will be used to cover expenses.