American Soprano Denise Young to Appear in Recital at Subculture

The gifted American soprano Denise Young will appear in recital, Wednesday evening, May 1, 2019, 7:30 pm at SubCulture (45 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012). She will perform works from her 2018 album, Denise Young, Soprano, with pianist Daric V. Jackson, bassist Noah Garabedian, drummer Leon Joyce Jr., and vocalists John James and Lajuan Carter-Dent. The program will include Songs of Form, co-composed by Ms. Young and pianist Thomas Nickell, featuring words of Ralph Waldo Emerson and James Baldwin, which just received its world premiere at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in April 2019.

The complete program follows:

Joni Mitchell | Both Sides Now
Duke Ellington, Giuseppe Verdi | Come Sunday / O Patria Mia
Sting | You Will Be My Ain True Love
Sergei Rachmaninoff | 14 Romances, Op. 24 No. 14 “Vocalise”
Denise Young, John Lennon | Sparrow / Blackbird
Denise Young | Nature of Your Pain
American Spiritual | Round About the Mountain
Antônio Carlos Jobim | Waters of March
George Gershwin arr. Denise Young | I Loves You Porgy / Bess’s Lament
Denise Young, Thomas Nickell | Songs of Form

The Twelfth Annual ABC Gala at Carnegie Hall

Presented in association with The Alexander & Buono Foundation and Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University in Sendai, Japan, The Annual ABC Gala is a fundraiser benefiting winners of The Alexander & Buono Competitions for Piano, Voice, Strings, and Flute. This year’s Gala will feature laureates of the competitions as well as the world premiere of a new work by composer and Young Steinway Artist Thomas Nickell, sung by Denise Young, Soprano.


As the head of Global Human Resources for the Apple Corporation, Denise Young carved out a twenty-year career that proved both innovative and groundbreaking at one of America’s—and the world’s—most successful companies.  During her tenure, a love of music and singing helped her to balance out roles as globe-trotting executive, wife and mother, and ultimately led to performances with A-list artists such as Grammy winner Larnelle Harris, Philip Bailey of Earth Wind and Fire, the Colorado Symphony, and friend and colleague Condoleezza Rice.

Coaching sessions with Barry Alexander and Cosmo Buono in order to refine her interest in the operatic repertoire of Verdi and Puccini would also include appearances in Italy as part of The Alexander & Buono Festival of Music, and two special guest appearances on the stage of Carnegie for the ABC Gala. 

Expanding her interest from strictly classical repertoire over the years so as to re-visit strong ties to other musical idioms, she turned her attention to both jazz and more popular music to highlight a unique and personal style that is firmly rooted in the technique of her classical training, but which also has given way to a fusion approach that combines repertoire of different genres, in order to highlight their similarities versus their differences.  It also led to her debut CD, Denise Young, Soprano (available on iTunes), which boasts a selection of operatic arrangements sung in tandem with jazz tunes, spirituals, and a cappella works, all performed in collaboration with Tuck and Patti Carthcart Andress, percussionist Juan Escovedo, and Grammy award-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard.



Social media, the rise of TED and the public speaking industry have amplified the voices of an emerging generation of women, offering platforms to share their stories and shape their brands in new and powerful ways. However, black women of every age are often reticent to leverage them—especially those in corporate roles.

Women of color in America’s largest companies remain largely isolated, rendering them highly visible (and potentially vulnerable) on the one hand, and easy to ignore on the other. Eager to advance, but lacking internal role models and ample support, they must carefully consider their organizations’ culture as they cultivate their personal brands. Often confined by restrictive employee guidelines, they are rarely encouraged to trumpet their achievements and frequently made to feel uncomfortable about doing so. The dilemma: if we don’t promote our own successes, who will?

Denise Young Smith rose through the ranks at Apple for 20 years before even starting to realize the significance of her presence. “Apple was such an intriguing environment and you do get absorbed in that head-down, just-do-the-work thing,” says Young Smith, who left as the “iGiant’s” head of human resources a year ago. “Nobody was rushing to tell me that this initiative or that one parlayed into X,Y,Z level of success. So, part of my evolution was understanding the impact that my talent and skills were making on the company. Then it hit me that, oh my God, I’ve kind of been slack on this issue of telling my story. But it took others holding up the mirror to show me.”

Denise Young Smith (Image: Apple)

Young Smith recalls conversations with Apple Vice President Lisa Jackson and Bozoma Saint John, who was then leading marketing at Apple Music. “Lisa and I would be very circumspect and then we’d look at each other and say, laughing, ‘You’re the sh–!’ And Boz would look at us and say, ‘Right, and why aren’t you all out there talking about it?’”

Saint John, who left Apple in a highly publicized 2017 move to become chief of marketing at Uber, joined Endeavor in a similar role last June. Her latest move also garnered extensive media coverage, gobbled up and reposted by her 172K (and counting) Instagram followers, which include Young Smith. Now, often referred to as a “business celebrity,” Saint John will host and produce her own documentary series on Starz. Unabashedly on brand, it’s to be called, Bozoma: Being Badass.

Denise Young Smith on Harriet’s Spirit

Each year, Opera Parallèle partners with school students to create and perform an original opera during an intensive eight-week residency. This year’s world premiere production features an original score by Bay Area jazz great Marcus Shelby and a libretto by Roma Olvera based on the story of a middle school girl who triumphs over the challenges of adolescence with Civil War-era legend Harriet Tubman as her role model and spirit guide. Students of Rooftop Alternative School in San Francisco will share the stage with professional singers and Jazz Ensemble in creating the production. OPs Hands-On-Opera production annually draws capacity crowds.


As the head of human resources for Apple’s retail stores and one of the few African American women who has ever held a role on Apple’s —or any major tech company’s—executive team, Denise Young Smith’s crown of dreadlocks was no afterthought. In fact, she says, “Locs gave me a way to be truthfully seen. They were not as common or considered as fashionable back then as they are now, and they said, ‘You’re going to have to work harder to try to ignore that I’m a black woman in places where you’re not used to seeing me or us.’”

Daughter of Colorado Springs' first and only black mayor carrying on his legacy

Fighting discrimination and advocating for equal opportunity was the primary ax to grind for Leon Young, Colorado Springs' first and only black mayor and vice mayor, says Denise Young Smith, the only child of the late Young and his late wife, Margie.

"He was incredibly vocal around discriminatory practices," Smith said. "His primary concern was the quality of life for everyone and when there wasn't representation."

Like father, like daughter.

Smith, who was born and raised in Colorado Springs and graduated from Palmer High School, is considered one of the most powerful black women in Silicon Valley.


Nonetheless, we did some digging and reached out to Fortune’s Ellen McGirt and Kristen Bellstrom. They explained that all women listed must have an operational role in a large-scale company. “We have a couple of CFO’s who have outside influence in their companies, but otherwise we really just consider women who are in operating positions.” That is why women like Denise Young-Smith, the VP of Worldwide Human Resources at Apple Inc., didn’t make the list, she said. She added that Channing Dungey, who was appointed last year as president of ABC Entertainment, was also in the running. However, she was not selected because “her business was not quite large enough. We don’t have a lot of women in entertainment and it tends to be because the businesses that they control aren’t as large as some of these Fortune 500 companies,” Bellstrom explained.

Denise Young Smith, Cornell Tech Executive in Residence

Cornell Tech Executive in Residence

Known as one of the most powerful black women in Silicon Valley, Denise Young Smith recently closed a brilliant two-decade career with Apple and is currently serving as only the second executive-in-residence at the new Cornell Tech graduate school campus in Manhattan. At Cornell Tech, Denise will be visiting scholar and a key cultural influencer at this unique institution, on the imperative of true diversity, inclusion, and humanity in technology...drawing on her passion to positively impact the next generation of business and tech leaders and entrepreneurs.

Denise held a variety of executive roles at Apple, including building much of the company’s retail store initiative, taking the chain to over 400 stores globally before being promoted to the chief HR role, reporting to Apple CEO, Tim Cook. She served as Apple’s first ever vice president of inclusion and diversity, leading the company’s efforts to see its full ecosystem become as inclusive as possible. Denise has been named a “Most Powerful Woman” by Ebony Magazine and Black Enterprise, has been named one of “100 Most Influential in Silicon Valley” by Business Insider, and has been featured in Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women” issue. Truly living at the intersection of technology, humanity and art, Denise is an accomplished soprano who has graced local and international recital halls—including Carnegie and SFJazz.


Garston Seneza, a junior at Philander Smith College and a computer science and mathematics major also said the students were given a tour around the Apple campus and also met with mentors.

Denise Young-Smith, vice president for worldwide human resources, Apple, spoke with Black Enterprise on the significance of the program.

“Historically black colleges and universities are a treasure and a treasure talent pool that for whatever reasons; proximity, culture…has been somewhat less than minimally tapped by the tech industry, said Young-Smith.

“Being an HBCU graduate myself, I understand this depth of talent that many companies, unfortunately, don’t get to see…given that most HBCUs are geographically located in the southeastern [part of the U.S.], she said.

Young-Smith was familiar with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund saying the organization has “a good reputation and “solid board leadership” With TMCF, Apple wanted to understand why great students coming from the several HBCU engineering schools, such as Tuskegee and Howard, were not getting exposure and access to Silicon Valley.

“We decided to embark on a long-term partnership, says Young-Smith. We agreed to an apprenticeship that encompassed many facets that would not help just Apple, but helps the students and some of the really focused faculty members that we met, and helps the tech industry as a whole.