- Major: Music (Vocal Performance)
- Hometown: Williamston, South Carolina
When Tyrese Byrd was in 7th grade, he emailed a Furman professor with questions about the classics. “We had discovered it in school that day,” he recalls.
Several years later, Tyrese would enroll at Furman – not to parse Plato, but to sing. Furman Music Professor Grant Knox had heard the young tenor when he was a student at the Governor’s School for the Arts and encouraged him to apply.
Tyrese was a second-year student at Furman when he first performed "Comfort Ye and Ev'ry Valley" from Handel’s “Messiah” to a packed McAlister Auditorium. At a precise moment – when the theme came back – he was supposed to step forward on the stage and begin. It seemed simple. And yet, it was a fugue – the theme was always coming back! So a tux-clad Tyrese took his best guess.
“I sang for six minutes and went back to my chair like ‘I don’t know what I just did. I can’t feel my legs,’” he remembers.
Then came a new realization: That was fun.
Tyrese performed it again as a senior. This time, there was none of the guesswork about when to come in, and his legs felt fine.
He credits Knox, along with Furman Singers and Chamber Choir Conductor Hugh Floyd and Vivian Hamilton, his coach and pianist, and since-retired Music Professor Bill Thomas, with developing him into a whole musician.
“I loved my time at Furman,” says Tyrese, who will attend graduate school in vocal performance at University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance in the fall on a full scholarship.