FARGO — Chris Kenney first got a taste for performing singing in the Red River Boys Choir during a performance in Hawley, Minnesota, where he left the audience with goosebumps.
While attending Concordia College, Kenney continued singing, leaving his mark on the school.
"He had the voice, that could really handle anything and he is just beginning," said Concordia music professor Peter Halverson.
Halverson mentored and worked with Kenney during his college years.
"Just the voice alone, but the energy and personality — and you need the whole package and the motivation and he had that, and he grew every year," Halverson said. "With Chris, I thought, 'If anyone is going to make it...'"
All that has lead Kenney to performing at New York's Metropolitan Opera House to sing in the production, "Fire Shut Up In My Bones."
"It is a rarity and something I will not take lightly for the rest of my singing career," Kenney said. "It has been a blessing to work on this show."
Kenney plays the role of Chester in the first opera at the Met to be written by a Black composer.
"I could name a thousand people and all of them said, 'You can do this. You can go the distance and climb to the top of the pile,' and I believed them and believed in myself and that confidence really pushed my trajectory, and that helped me rub shoulders with big names early on," Kenney said.
To get this far this early is almost unheard of in the opera world, yet, for all this fame, Kenney waits for his next gig but stays busy as a flight instructor.
"I am actually headed back to Chicago, I am a full time flight instructor when I am not singing on stage," Kenney said. "It is my other passion and love in life is flying. I teach other students how to fly planes and there are some airlines looking at me for hiring. a lot to do in life, I am just trying to get through it."
The opera's final performance will be Saturday, Oct. 23, and will be streamed Live at Fargo's Century 10 theater at noon.