From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Duncan, R. Todd

(born: 1903  -  died: 1998) 

Born in Danville, KY, Robert Todd Duncan was the son of John Duncan and Lettie Cooper Duncan, who was a music teacher. The family moved to Indianapolis when Todd was a boy. After graduating from high school, Duncan earned his B.A. from Butler University and an M.A. in teaching from Columbia University Teaching College. He taught at the Louisville Municipal College for Negroes from 1925-1930 and at Howard University from 1931-1945. He played Porgy in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, breaking the color barrier in American opera. Duncan also appeared in the films Syncopation and Unchained. For more see Blacks in Opera, by E. L. Smith; Who is Who in Music, 1941; and Current Biography, 1942. View images and listen to Todd Duncan, Ann Brown "Bess, You Is My Woman" Original Porgy and Bess (1940) on YouTube.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Duncan, R. Todd,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 24, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-09-14 18:28:50