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By Nan Price, Content Manager, MetroHartford Alliance

Gifted opera singer Miles Wilson-Toliver is one of the 10 artists fellows participating in the Artists of Color Accelerate, where he has been paired with Hartford Opera Theater. Miles is also Vice President of the Upper Albany Neighborhood Revitalization Zone and Director of the Miles & Friends Mentorship Programme. Here, he discusses his love of Hartford and his personal connection to the city.

Why Hartford?

MILES WILSON-TOLIVER: I have a deep connection here in Hartford. In the 1960s, my grandmother came from Philadelphia in the early 1970s and raised her four children here in the home that I currently live in on Vine Street. So, I have a really strong, deep connection in this neighborhood. So, Hartford is home forever.

Also, I was one of those kids who sang all over Hartford. I sang with the University of Hartford Connecticut Children’s Chorus, I sang at Hartford Stage, and I sang in the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.

Now, I contribute vocal instruction to Hartford residents and young people in Hartford. I’m the artistic director of Voices of Hartford, which is an ensemble of young men of color that provides a safe space for them to express their selves artistically and personally. So, I contribute to Hartford through the arts via many different organizations, which is how I’ve built a relationship with the city.

What makes Hartford unique?

MILES: Everything I do, I do through Hartford. One of the things I love about Hartford—and one of the things I really missed when I was singing out in the west for few years—is the food. Here in Hartford, we take for granted how many different cultures we have and how many different cuisines we can explore and enjoy—from Indian food to Latin food to Jamaican food, the list goes on and on and on and every iteration possible! That’s something that makes Hartford unique.

Our culture Hartford is just booming with different cultures and pride and joy about where people come from. That’s another thing I really love about Hartford.

How do you tell the story of Hartford?

MILES: When I tell the story of Hartford, I start with myself growing up here, moving all over Hartford when we were kids and experiencing everything from the corner store to the amazing gospel music in church on Sunday mornings. I share about how Hartford has become a part of who I am. That’s how I explain Hartford, through my story and my family’s story and by talking about all the wonderful things that are provided for us here.

Photo credit: Leslie Gomez, LMG Photography