ACTOR, SINGER, INTERPRETER: Nisheeda Golden's rich, velvety mezzo tone is a dream. Joshua Asante

Opera in the Rock, a local nonprofit arts organization, is home to some of Little Rock’s leading theatrical and classically trained voices. One voice that stands out in particular is that of Nisheedah Golden, a vocal powerhouse who, by the way, isn’t shy when it comes to singing a perfectly crisp, vibrating note while sitting down at a buzzing coffee shop on a Wednesday night.

She hadn’t planned on it, but she’s been singing opera ever since her days at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, when her vocal teacher — Dr. Robert Holden, an opera singer himself — had an inkling and assigned her Donizetti’s “O Mio Fernando.” Golden describes her first time singing with a full orchestra as a rush she’d never felt before, one that clearly struck a chord with her — an operatic one.


Golden, a native of North Carolina, has been singing since age 5. She’s traveled around plenty, but said in an interview that Arkansas is somewhat of a prime locale for budding singers to thrive, especially the youngest songsters. Golden has been teaching drama and vocal lessons for several years, mentoring blooming performers at Murrell Taylor Elementary School and Bearden Productions Performing Arts Studio.

“I love teaching what I know to kids and seeing it come to life,” Golden said. “I can see in them that they really like being able to use their own ideas to bring their character to life.” One of her favorite parts of the job, she says, is seeing students come to the realization that they can sing.


The gap between the live band scene and the musical theater scene in Little Rock is becoming smaller. As an example, Golden mentioned the collaboration “Divas on Tap,” an offset of Opera in the Rock that features opera singers vocalizing with well-known local musicians and playing contemporary pieces intermingled with opera hits. There’s never a shortage of bands to pull from for local musical theater productions, Golden said.

If she were to start a band, Golden said, she’d want a little bit of every genre in the mix, as she draws her musical inspiration from a myriad of melodies. “I love gospel. I love R&B. I love pop. I even like a few Guns N’ Roses songs.” Golden said her musical tastes come from her parents, who had a vast vinyl collection that she said spanned from country music to Journey.


If Golden could be said to have another full-time job, it’s rehearsing. On any given week, she’s in rehearsal Monday through Saturday after her teaching day ends, with a few extra practices sprinkled in depending on how the next performance is shaping up.

Catch Golden at Murry’s Dinner Playhouse in the 50-year-old dinner theater’s production of “Menopause: The Musical,” which runs May 29-July 7, 2018, and at Pulaski Technical College’s Center for the Humanities and Arts in Opera in the Rock’s production of William Grant Still’s “Troubled Island,” Friday, May 4, and Sunday, May 6, 2018.

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