Rotary Clubs sponsor Simon Estes event

Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:00 am

By Kim Brooks, Express Editor

The Monticello and Anamosa Rotary Clubs are coming together in October to bring a unique educational and cultural experience to the communities of Jones County, especially for the students.

On Sunday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m. at Monticello High School, famed Iowa native and opera singer Simon Estes will entertain the crowd as part of his “Roots & Wings” tour, visiting all 99 counties in Iowa.

Estes will be performing familiar selections from Broadway and opera as well as inspirational songs and spirituals. The concert will also include the high school choirs from Monticello, Anamosa and Midland.

Following the concert, there will be a reception at the Monticello Eagles Club from 4 to 5:30 p.m., where participants can meet Estes.

That Monday, Oct. 29, Estes will give presentations at both Monticello and Anamosa high schools to the entire student body. He will share his unique story, the obstacles he overcame and what qualities and characteristics are needed to become successful.

Tickets for the concert are $15. The money from this event will go to help fund Rotary scholarships for students from Jones County high schools for the 2013-14 school year.

The Monticello and Anamosa Rotary Clubs are asking for sponsors for this event. There will be different levels of sponsorships depending on the amount given: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. The contribution deadline is Sunday, Sept. 30. Checks can be made out to the Monticello School Foundation. Contact Monticello Rotary Club Secretary Gerald Retzlaff at or 480-0014 for additional questions or information.

Background on Simon Estes

Estes is a native of Iowa; he was born and grew up in Centerville. His father was a coal-miner and his grandfather was a former slave. The Estes family was heavily involved in their Baptist church. In fact, Estes’ earliest musical memories are from church.

Estes attended the University of Iowa and sang with U of I’s “Old Gold Singers.” He was the first black singer of the group.

He then went on to Julliard School and made his professional opera debut at the Deutsche Oper Berline. He’s performed in numerous European opera houses throughout the 1960s and ’70s. In the early 1980s, Estes sang with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. He sang with the Boston Pops at the Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration and performed for three U.S. Presidents at the White House. His other performances include a service honoring Nelson Mandela in New York and with the National Symphony for the Fourth of July Celebration in Washington, D.C.

Estes has been generous with his contributions, especially when it comes to his home state of Iowa. After the devastating tornado in Parkersburg, Iowa, Estes performed a benefit concert and raised $38,000 for the citizens of Parkersburg. He also held a benefit concert for the flood victims of Waverly in 2008.

Estes is now a Professor of Music at Wartburg College in Waverly. He is also the Distinguished Artist in Residence at Iowa State University.