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Jubilant Sykes

  • Baritone


Jubilant Sykes press reviews

“The big news here is American baritone Jubilant Sykes, singing the musically and dramaturgically challenging role of the Celebrant. Sykes stakes a bold claim to the part right out of the gate with "Simple Song"; he does remarkable things at the pianissimo end of his dynamic range, giving the piece a heightened level of reverential awe. Some might judge it overdone, but he unquestionably reinvents the number. In general, Sykes is authentically passionate and vocally enthralling, masterfully fusing his classical, jazz and gospel backgrounds to the point where it seems the piece must have been written for him. His "The Word of the Lord" has a compelling, almost shamanistic power I've not heard elsewhere, and he makes every word of the oceanic, fourteen-minute "Things Get Broken" seem essential.”

-Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News, November 2009 Issue

“Most remarkable of all was Jubilant Sykes's Celebrant, whose realization of the role was utterly compelling, both for its athletic grace and vocal appeal. Sykes has the necessary power and smooth delivery to ride the big operatic moments as well as the ability to scale the tone down to convey the easy charm of "A Simple Song," his entrance number and possibly the score's greatest hit. Mostly Sykes seemed willing to risk everything to make a musical-dramatic point -- a crucial quality in performing a remarkably risky work that asks for nothing less.”

-Peter G. Davis,, October 28, 2008

“The large audience seemed to love every minute of Sykes's performance, since many of them stood to applaud after each song. Rarely has this reviewer observed so much enthusiasm for a solo performer at an FSO event.”

- Lawrence E. McDonald, The Flint Journal, February 17, 2008

“The versatile Jubilant Sykes captured the downright evil sliminess — as well as the charisma — of the drug dealer Sportin' Life, offering captivating rhythmic energy and syncopated swagger in "It ain't necessarily so" and "There's a boat dat's leavin' soon for New York."

- Mary A. Wischusen, Opera News January 2007

“Sykes is a distinctive (and wonderfully uncategorizable) singer by any standard. His voice is rich and beautifully controlled, with a molten bottom and shimmering top, the articulation razor-sharp even when the singer is zipping along in Portuguese. But it was the detailed color and subtlety that he brought to the program that really impressed.”

- Stephen Brookes, The Washington Post, December 11, 2006

“Sykes’ voice is impossible to pigeonhole. He carries with him touches of gospel, jazz, pop, opera, and Broadway: echoes of William Warfield, Simon Estes, Joe Williams, and Al Jarreau. But in the end, those echoes are too fleeting. He simply reminds you that there’s no one else like him. He carries a striking range with a concrete floor at the deep lower end and a hovering, assured stratospheric top. Over the course of time, he’s gathered heft, richness, and maturity. The brassy and bright qualities of his voice have gained a patina. One of his signature pieces on the program, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” offered the whole Jubilant experience in miniature: exacting diction, startling dynamics, lyrical play, and full emotional commitment. He puts a lot of decoration on his performances but everything fits right.”

- Peter Lefevre, OC Register, November 26, 2006

“Baritone Jubilant Sykes' strutting, insidious turn as the dope pusher Sportin' Life peaks in a sly delivery of "It Ain't Necessarily So"

- Lawrence A. Johnson, Detroit News, October 24, 2006

“Jubilant Sykes lit up both casts as Sportin' Life, strutting and dancing with oily charisma and singing "It Ain't Necessarily So" and "There's a Boat That's Leaving Soon For New York" with full-throated ardor and inspired rhythmic gestures that carried the scent of improvisation.”

- Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press, October 23, 2006

“Sykes is a gifted singer, possessing a commodious baritone, which he deployed with precision and power.”

- Lawrence A. Johnson, Sun Sentinel, July 17, 2006

“In addition to being a singer with a powerful and highly expressive voice, Sykes is an actor with a keen sense of musical drama, and his moving performance surely left few dry eyes in the house.”

- Olin Chism, The Bryan-College Station Eagle, February 11, 2006

“On the selections featuring Sykes, the singer acquitted himself with bold charisma and confidence, with the theatrical flair that made him a smash on the Met stage in "Porgy and Bess" at the beginning of his career. Sykes' authoritative baritone was particularly impressive on his unaccompanied rendering of the spiritual "Witness," in which he balanced humor and playful liberties with meter, earning one of his biggest ovations of the evening.”

- Jack Walton, South Bend Tribune, December 11, 2005

“Sykes gave an exciting performance of "Ching-a-ring Chaw" that really displayed his incredible range of sound and style, from jazz to the operatic.”

- Grand Rapids Press, April 2005

“Throughout the evening, the focus was on Sykes’ unique vocal quality with its complex overtones, and on his expressive delivery of a wide repertoire. His voice at times held a buttery cello tone, at others a trumpet-like clarity; but at all times he had the audience in the palm of his hand.”

- Dean Bevan, Lawrence Journal-World, April 17, 2005

“World-class singers possess voices combining perfect pitch, breadth, volume and uniquely interpretive phrasing that set them apart and above the competition. Sykes, it seems, is in a class even above that.”

- Michael Muckian, Capital Times, October 2, 2004

“Sykes has a seemingly limitless voice. Trained as a classical baritone, he moves with ease through bass and tenor ranges. But the colors he creates, from faint, breathy whispers to throaty fortes, are what command attention.”

- Elaine Schmit, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 12, 2003