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Opera for All Voices (OFAV) began as a consortium of North American opera companies committed to co-commissioning and co-producing new operatic works for audiences of all ages that bear the same artistic integrity and depth of storytelling as main stage works. Over several years it has grown in its mission to tell "stories of our time." Follow host Andrea Fellows Fineberg from The Santa Fe Opera and OFAV collaborators and stakeholders as we explore the process, the context, and the story of commissioning and producing new operas in America.

Mar 15, 2023

What do you know about the life and legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer? Chances are, not much. That's about to change. 

Co-hosts Andrea Fellows Fineberg and Anna Garcia dust off the Key Change time machine for a trip back through time and place to the real-life inspiration for This Little Light of Mine (TLLoM), the modern operatic masterpiece commissioned by Santa Fe Opera's Opera For All Voices initiative. Good thing this ride is roomy because joining them are two women who can claim a direct connection to Mrs. Hamer: Jacqueline "Cookie" Hamer Flakes, Mrs. Hamer's last surviving daughter, and LaToya Ratlieff, Mrs. Hamer's grand-niece. 

Mrs. Hamer was born to sharecroppers early in the last century when life for an undereducated Black woman was difficult at best. She endured unimaginable cruelty at the hands of white people who sought to block voting access for folks who looked like her. While those encounters battered her body, her powerful, passionate voice never broke. And yet, many are still unaware of Mrs. Hamer’s contributions to the Civil Rights movement or the rousing, emotional speech she delivered at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

Cookie shares painful, visceral details of Mrs. Hamer’s life and poignant memories of her spirit in celebration of a life committed to community––and as a reminder that the fight for civil rights is still ours today. 

This transformative voyage also features familiar voices from the TLLoM creative team: composer Chandler Carter, librettist Diana Solomon-Glover, music director Jeri Lynne Johnson, stage director Beth Greenberg, and stage manager Laurel McIntyre. Charles Gamble, SFO's director of school programs, Devin DeVargas, Pojoaque Valley High School choir teacher, and members of the Pojoaque Valley Choir complete this episode’s passenger roster.

This episode is dedicated in memoriam to Jacqueline "Cookie" Hamer Flakes (September 22, 1966 - March 27, 2023).


Jacqueline "Cookie" Hamer Flakes

LaToya Ratlieff

Diana Solomon-Glover – Librettist

Chandler Carter – Composer

Jeri Lynne Johnson – Conductor & Music Director

Beth Greenberg – Stage Director

Laurel McIntyre – Stage Manager

Charles Gamble – SFO Director of School Programs

Devin DeVargas – Pojoaque Valley High School Choir Teacher

Members of the Pojoaque Valley High School Choir 


Fannie Lou Hamer: Stand Up


A Day In The Life Before A World Premiere

Mother of a Movement: This Little Light of Mine

BONUS: Is This America? 

Singing A Call to Action: Is This America? 

Making a Choice With Conviction: A conversation with Jeri Lynne Johnson

Lighting a Fire: The Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer


Key Change is a production of The Santa Fe Opera in collaboration with Opera for All Voices.

Produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios

Hosted by Andrea Fellows Fineberg & Anna Garcia

Audio Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe

Show Notes by  Lisa Widder

Theme music by Rene Orth with Corrie Stallings, mezzo-soprano, and Joe Becktell, cello

Cover art by Dylan Crouch

This podcast is made possible due to the generous funding from the Hankins Foundation, the Andrew W Mellon foundation, and an Opera America innovation Grant supported by the Anne & Gordon Getty Foundation.  

To learn more about Opera For All Voices, visit us at