Faces of Kansas City: Marine-turned-opera singer spreading love - KCTV5

Faces of Kansas City: Marine-turned-opera singer spreading love of music

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The brave men and women of America's military sacrifice their lives to protect everyone's freedom.

One member is now safely home after more than four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and now he's focusing on something that makes him even more unique.

Richard Gibson now spends much of his time at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He's been with them for eight years and found it replaced the isolation he felt after returning from overseas. 

“I can't tell you the amount of healing, in conjunction with therapy at the VA, that helped me blossom into a positive person. Where there's not clouds in the sky anymore, there's sun," Gibson said. 

Gibson is a South African-born duel citizen. His family immigrated to Lee's Summit, MO, in 1986 and he left for the Marine Corps 12 days after his high school graduation. 

“For some reason, I wasn't really scared. I was a little bit more excited because I wanted it so bad," he said.

Gibson was an anti-terrorism specialist and mortar man with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, also called the Dark Horse Battalion. 

“The most battle decorated and famous unit in the entire Marine Corps. For as long as the Marine Corps has existed, they've been the fore runners in the fighting and the leaders," Gibson said. 

Gibson drove the commanding officer in a lead unarmored Humvee as part of the invasion into Iraq and was awarded the first Presidential Unit Citation for the first hand-to-hand combat with bayonet kills since the battle of Way City in Vietnam. 

When Gibson's service ended, he took an unusual turn, studying voice in South Africa before landing at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. 

Two years into his study, Gibson received a contract with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He also sang The Star-Spangled Banner at Arrowhead Stadium in 2007. 

Gibson knows it's not common to be a Marine-turned-opera singer, but now he's spreading his love of music to other veterans with a veteran's chorus. 

In addition to offering a 20 percent discount to February's performance of Silent Night at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Gibson will conduct a one-of-a-kind performance by, with and for veterans of all wars. 

“I know Kansas City loves its veterans. I know they do and so it's an opportunity for those in Kansas City who really want to continue to cheer on the ones they love, to come and do it in song," he said. 

All veterans, family and friends are invited to join in three performances in November and December, starting at Liberty Memorial. A person only needs to attend one of three rehearsals and no experience is necessary. 

To register or find out more, call the Lyric Opera at 816-471-7344.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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