Beatboxer Finds New Sound in Opera by UChicago Composer

Augusta Read Thomas (left) and Nicole Paris (right) rehearse for the opera "Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun."

The following was published and broadcast by Chicago Tonight on WTTW on December 2, 2019.

by Angel Idowu

For years, beatboxer Nicole Paris and her dad Ed Cage have awed audiences with their beatboxing battles as Nicole and Popz. Paris recently broke from that duet to take on a feat of her own: beatboxing in an opera. When composer and University of Chicago professor Augusta Read Thomas had the idea to incorporate nontraditional sounds into her opera, Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun, she knew just who to reach out to: beatboxer Nicole Paris.

Kimberly Peirce Reflects on How UChicago Shaped Her Filmmaking Career

Kimberly Peirce

When Kimberly Peirce made Boys Don’t Cry two decades ago, she created the movie as a labor of love. The University of Chicago alum wanted to tell the story of Brandon Teena, to honor the courage and imagination of a trans person who lost his life in pursuit of his true self. But the small, independent film became a surprise hit and cultural touchstone, one that established Peirce as a director and helped shape a national conversation about gender and sexual identity. None of that would have been possible without UChicago, Peirce insisted during a recent visit to campus.