Carolyn June Bonner, former opera singer and revered voice teacher, died Sunday at a local hospital. She was 72.
Bonner was born in 1937 in Spartanburg, the daughter of O.C. Bonner Jr. and Irene Bonner. At 6 months old, her family moved to Atlanta, where her mother took her to see the Metropolitan Opera perform each spring.
She attended Indiana University and studied at the Kathryn Long School at the Metropolitan Opera.
Bonner made her operatic debut with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at 16 and performed with most major symphonies in the United States and around the world during her 14-year opera career. Her favorite role was Carmen, which she performed eight to 10 times.
She headlined as the leading mezzo soprano with the Metropolitan Opera Studio for five years, went on a five-month tour with the Canadian Opera Company and became the leading mezzo soprano for the Boston Symphony. She also performed with the National Symphony of Washington, the Lincoln Center Philharmonic, New York State Theater and the New York Philharmonic, as well as at Carnegie Hall.
Bonner moved to Charleston in 1972, where she became involved in many aspects of music in the city. She was president of The Charleston Opera Company, directed chamber music series and sang with the symphony. She also created The Coconut Club, a popular night club, open only three weeks a year during the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.
For nine years, she taught as an artist in residence at the Baptist College at Charleston, now Charleston Southern University.
Bonner began teaching voice lessons in 1984 at the Vocal Studio, located in the Dock Street Theatre. She loved working with young people, and of all her accomplishments, was most proud of her students.
"I am not just the vocalist I am because of Ms. Bonner, I am the person I am because of June Bonner," said Ann Caldwell, a jazz and blues singer in Charleston who trained with Bonner.
Bonner is survived by her son, Alfred Joseph Genovese; her brother, Caroll Bonner; and a grandson and niece.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. July 22 at the Dock Street Theatre. In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted for the C. June Bonner Scholarship Fund at 13 A Elizabeth St., Charleston, SC 29403.