Former football star hits high notes for "Bearcat to Baritone"

By: Victoria Maranan Email
By: Victoria Maranan Email

DENISON, TX-A former Sherman football standout and N.F.L. offensive tackle turned opera star belts it out Wednesday night for the audience at Grayson county College. Victoria Maranan has the story.
Lawrence Harris, also known as "Larry" by his friends, took the stage Wednesday for an impromptu performance at G.C.C. When he retired from playing football back in 1989, his opera career took center stage.

"Opera's harder, opera's more difficult and it's a lot more fun. I had tons of fun playing football," he said.

Lawrence Harris hit the high notes Wednesday night for "bearcat to Baritone" at the Grayson County College Stark Auditorium. The concert started out with a video "From the Gridiron to Opera: The Lawrence 'Larry' Harris story" showing his journey from football to music.
He kept on singing even when played in the N.F.L. with the Houston Oilers since 1976 to his retirement in 1989 because of injuries.

"I still studied music even though I was playing football, I still took voice lessons and all that. I was a chorister for the Houston Grand Opera because I have been playing for the Houston Oilers at the time," he said.

Harris said the transition was rough at first.

"I had to convince a lot of conductors that I wasn't going to attack them in the orchestra pit, but that was a lot of fun to see the reaction when they saw a big guy like me to sing something so intimate, passionate and heartfelt."

G.C.C.'s Janis Thompson, who also went to high school with Harris, invited the singer to put on a show when she found out through his website that he's coming home to Texas.

"We don't get to hear that very often here in our community and some people might like opera, some people might not like it but this gives them a chance to experience it and to hear one of our own," she said.

Thompson said that through Harris' performance, she wanted to show students and members of the community that anything is possible.

"Larry is just proof that anybody from anywhere can really make it and if they have a dream and want to pursue it, I think he's the one that can convince people to keep pursuing it," she said.

Harris said, he's just glad to be home.

"This community has always made me feel like part of them and I am part of this family here in this Sherman area."

Harris and his wife Renee will soon be heading out to perform in Austin in a few days and soon flying out to Italy.


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