Ryan Speedo Green had a tough upbringing in southeastern Virginia: his family lived in a trailer park and later a bullet-riddled house across the street from drug dealers. His father was absent; his mother was volatile and abusive. At the age of 12, Ryan was sent to Virginia's juvenile facility of last resort. He was placed in solitary confinement. He was uncontrollable, uncontainable, with little hope for the future.
Twelve years later, in 2011 and at the age of 24, Ryan won a nationwide competition hosted by New York's Metropolitan Opera, beating out 1,200 other talented singers. Today, he is a rising star performing major roles at the Met and Europe’s most prestigious opera houses.
Daniel Bergner’s Sing for Your Life, named by both The Washington Post and the New York Times as a notable book in 2016, chronicles Ryan’s suspenseful, racially charged and artistically intricate journey from solitary confinement to stardom. Bergner takes readers on Ryan’s path toward redemption and illuminates all that it takes — technically, creatively — to find and foster the beauty of the human voice. Through Ryan’s story and Bergner’s writing, Sing for Your Life sheds unique light on the enduring and complex realities of race in America.
Daniel Bergner is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and the author of five books of nonfiction, including In the Land of Magic Soldiers and God of the Rodeo, as well as a novel, Moments of Favor. In the Land of Magic Soldiers received an Overseas Press Club Award for international reporting and a Lettre-Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage. God of the Rodeo was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Bergner’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Granta, Harper’s and the New York Times Book Review, and on the op-ed page of the New York Times.