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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Soprano Wins Asturias Arts Prize

OVIEDO, Spain -- U.S. soprano Barbara Hendricks won a prestigious Spanish arts award Wednesday for using her artistic talent to further social causes.

The Prince of Asturias Arts Prize for 2000 went to Hendricks for "knowing how to use her prodigious voice in opera, in concerts, in jazz, in popular music, and at the same time making herself heard in the whole world in defense of refugees and against xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance,'' the prize committee announced in this northern city.

Hendricks was put forward for the prize by the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation.

In a statement released by her press office, Hendricks said she was aware of the reputation of the Prince of Asturias prizes through other former nominees who are close friends.

"Being henceforth in their company and in that of this year's nominated outstanding personalities is an immense honor for me,'' the statement read.

A native of Arkansas, Hendricks began her musical career as a jazz and spiritual singer in the choir of a Methodist church where her father was a pastor.

After studying at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, she made her debut in the San Francisco Opera House with Monteverdi's "The Coronation of Poppea,'' which launched her career internationally.

Nowadays, she performs widely in Europe from her home in Switzerland.

Her repertoire includes more than 20 operas and also American comedies, French melodies and spirituals.

As part of her commitment to social action, she has visited refugee camps in various countries including Zambia, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia.

Her special concern for the situation in former Yugoslavia led the American diva to give concerts during the war in the early 1990s in support of civilians affected by the fighting.

She is an adviser on intercultural relations for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and has participated in many campaigns against human rights abuses.

The arts prize is one of eight honors handed out every year by the Prince of Asturias Foundation named for Crown Prince Felipe of Spain.

The other prizes cover literature, science, sports, humanities, international cooperation, peace and communications.