Knoxville — Simon Estes is scheduled to perform at the Knoxville Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Dec. 1, and to his knowledge, this will be his first performance in the community.
Estes has performed in every major opera venue in the world. He seemed to find it funny that he has never performed in Knoxville, a town he remembers traveling through with his family, as they made their way to Des Moines.
Growing up in a financially poor family in Centerville, the family had strong faith in God.
"We were millionaires in our faith in God," Estes points out. When he was around 11 years old, he and his mother read through the entire Bible in one year by reading three chapters a day and five on Sunday. This was something he was able to accomplish, in seven months, with his wife of 13 years, Ovida.
Estes gives full credit to God for his voice and success. His mother and an older sister also had incredible voices. His sister played piano and the family listened to classical music when he was a child.
When he was in junior high school, the high school choral director recognized his talent and invited him to sing with the high school choir. Back then, in the 1950s, his voice hadn't changed yet and he sang soprano with the girls.
Compare that today, when young children giggle when he talks with them with his deep, bass voice. Estes doesn't mind.
The music he most often considered as a young man was popular music. He enjoyed artists such as Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.
He attended junior college in Centerville. From there, he went on to the University of Iowa, where Charles Kellis heard him sing and told him that he could sing opera. Estes went on to the Julliard School in New York City. Upon completing his training there, Estes was hired to sing in an opera in Berlin, West Germany, in 1965.