Click above to watch Davóne Tines sing “Old Man River.”
“Oh, wow, you have an instrument there,” his grandfather said to Davóne Tines one afternoon, inspiring him to join the school choir.
Nothing has surprised me about what Davóne has accomplished.
— Kevin Mettinger, former FHS theatre director
• Age: 31
• Home: Baltimore
• Family: John and Alma Tines, grandparents; brother, Michael T. Spencer Jr. (mother, Michelle Spencer died in 2009).
• Work: Opera singer.
• Education: Master’s degree, vocal performance, The Julliard School, 2013; bachelor’s degree, sociology, Harvard University, 2009; Fauquier High School, 2005.
The retired Fauquier High School orchestra director knew the star student would make it big someday.
Davóne Tines of Orlean had it all, George Sims recalls.
Whip-smart, gifted and hard-working, “Davóne could have done anything,” Mr. Sims says.
“I met him when he was in the eighth grade, when he auditioned for the high school orchestra group, and I knew immediately he was incredibly talented,” the former instructor says of the already-accomplished violinist. “I’m not at all surprised he got the Lincoln Center honor.”
“Absolutely well deserved,” agrees Kathy Pegues, a retired English instructor who taught Mr. Tines during his three years at Marshall Middle School. “I always felt he was going to be very successful.”
In December, Mr. Tines, 31, received Manhattan-based Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ prestigious Emerging Artists award for his operatic singing rather than violin-playing prowess.
While friends describe him as “humble” and “modest,” the bass baritone quietly admits the Lincoln Center awards means a lot.
“It’s huge, because it’s a world-leading organization saying what you’re doing is worthwhile,” he explains Thursday in an interview at his grandparents’ Orlean home.
The award also came with a $7,500-grant that can be used for “career expenses as you see fit,” Mr. Tines says.
Few had more influence over his passion for music than family members, according to Mr. Tines, who lives in Baltimore but regularly returns to Fauquier.
“They were my first introduction to music, going to church every Sunday and having to sing in the choir, but then realizing that I did enjoy it.”
Demonstrating an early aptitude for music, Mr. Tines took piano and violin lessons in grade school.
But his grandfather — John Tines — probably first recognized the young man’s ability to carry a tune.
Davóne’s grandparents, with whom he and his mother lived in the couple’s Orlean home, helped raise him. (Davone’s mother, Michelle Spencer, died in 2009; he remains estranged from his father.)
After a day of work, his grandfather would return home and greet the high school student by playfully singing, in a deep, booming voice, “Hello, how are you?” Davóne recalls.
Imitating his grandfather one day, “I said, ‘I am fine.’ And he said, ‘Oh, wow, you have an instrument there.’ He kind of inspired me to join the (school) choir.”
At Fauquier High, Mr. Tines also performed in musicals.
“That kind of opened things up — how I could sing in a more western tradition, formally, which is a little different than church choir.”
And, he acted in high school plays.
“He was a tremendous presence on the stage,” says former Fauquier High theatre director Kevin Mettinger, citing Mr. Tines’ depiction of Oberon — king of the faeries — in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
For a teenager, Mr. Tines also possessed a rare combination of talent and an “extraordinary work ethic,” he adds.
“He comes from a very strong family and strong upbringing,” says Mr. Mettinger, theatre instructor for Warrenton-based Allegro Community School of the Arts. “He was immediately mature and took on great responsibility as a young man.
“Nothing has surprised me about what Davóne has accomplished.”
After graduating from FHS, Mr. Tines attended Harvard University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2009.
As a Harvard senior, he performed in his first opera — “The Rake’s Progress.”
“It was kind of slow, emerging,” Mr. Tines says about his love of opera.
After graduating from Harvard, he returned to Fauquier and cobbled together a mix of arts administration, production and singing performance contracts in the county, Northern Virginia and Washington to make ends meet.
He knew paying the bills as a professional singer always would be difficult.
A year or so after of working “a combination” of jobs, he thought about getting a master’s degree that would prepare him for an arts management career.
But Mr. Tines abandoned the idea of attending business school because “it became pretty clear to me — looking at what my life would be like in the next two to three years — that it wasn’t as appealing as I thought it would be.”
Instead, he attended Manhattan’s Julliard School, where he earned a master’s in vocal performance in 2013.
The bass baritone since has performed in operas and concerts across the country and around the world.
“It’s been a four-year transition, knowing that it would be a full-time, bankable career,” Mr. Tines says. “At this point, I’m a full-time singer and have been blessed to have a calendar for the next three years.”
On April 26, he will make his Kennedy Center debut, performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
“All of Fauquier’s going,” says Ms. Pegues, who with her husband John will attend the performance. “It’s sold out. It will showcase his ability very well. . . . Very exciting.”
Great piece to read on Easter, or any day. He has quite the life ahead of him. It all started here: Marshall Middle, Fauquier -- and on to Harvard, Julliard, Lincoln Center and now the Kennedy Center. Well done!
TAM-TAM34 · March 31, 2018 at 4:04 pm
TMTucker2 · March 31, 2018 at 10:21 am
Lou, Ellen, Don... thanks for running this.
BJ · March 30, 2018 at 3:36 pm
His grandparents must be so proud of this young man! Wish his Mom was still alive to share this moment with him. Congratulations Davone!