J'Nai Bridges in Conversation: For the Love of Lyric
Mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges talks about her experience filming the For the Love of Lyric virtual concert and why COVID-19 inspires her for the future of her artform
Tell us about the selection you sang in the concert - why is it meaningful to you personally?
I am joined with the Chicago Children's Choir singing "Sing" from Sesame Street written by Joe Raposo. There are many reasons why performing this piece is meaningful to me—Sesame Street was a big part of my childhood and exposed me to different genres of music and cultural icons. I remember hearing the legendary iterations of this song and always feeling curious, encouraged, and happy. I also remember thinking, 'I want to sing that song on Sesame Street one day!' Performing this piece on For the Love of Lyric also holds an extra special place in my heart because I have the privilege and honor of collaborating with one of the most esteemed choirs in the world, the Chicago Children's Choir! When I first heard them I was immediately moved beyond words and comforted by the beautifully diverse faces I saw. I am inspired by the artistic direction of Josephine Lee and the impact the organization has had on thousands of lives. I see myself in these children and I hope they see themselves in me and are assured that they can follow and pursue all of their dreams!
For the Love of Lyric is all about celebrating Lyric and the city of Chicago. What are some of the things you love about the city or about Lyric itself?
Every time I walk into Lyric, I feel like I am home away from home. I was a young artist in the Ryan Opera Center at this great house and was under some of the best tutelage in the world. Along with gaining tremendous opportunity and experience, I also gained some of the most grounded and loyal support to help guide me not only through my career but also life. Lyric is a place that is dedicated to lifting up its community through music, and that's what I love the most. I love Chicago very much, especially the food and theatre scenes. It's a big city with all that a big city has to offer, yet oftens carries that small town, close-knit family feel.
How have the current realities of COVID-19 affected you? How are you using music to help you get through this time?
COVID-19 has been as much inspiring as it's been challenging. The realities of many important engagements being canceled is very real and difficult to cope with. I have allowed myself to feel all the feelings from anger and sadness to relief and inspiration. Every day is different and I give myself the grace to feel in the present moment, and do what I can to the best of my ability. Some of the most interesting projects for me have developed during this time, and one of the silver linings is that I have spent more time with my family and loved ones than I have since I left for college 15 years ago. Now with our present reality, I have accepted the challenges and will continue to do my best with my gifts that I have gratefully been afforded.
It was an honor to have J'Nai be a part of our For the Love of Lyric evening—she even popped in to our Teen Watch Party on the night to answer some questions from young music lovers! If you missed the concert or just want to watch it over and over again, you can still enjoy the full For the Love of Lyric evening here.