Dr. Richard Todd Payne



Role: Faculty
Campus: Springfield

Postal mail

Missouri State University
901 S. National Ave.
Springfield, MO 65897


A native of Munford, Tennessee, district winner and regional finalist of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, and professor of music/voice at Missouri State University, Dr. Richard Todd Payne’s baritone voice has been described as "magnificent", "impassioned,” and “stentorian."

He is sought for his commanding presence, ringing tones and intense work ethic in opera, recital, oratorio, and public speaking.

In 2023, Payne attended the Bayview Music Festival’s African Spiritual Intensive Program in Petosky, Michigan. Previously, Payne delivered a stirring interpretation of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream,” speech at Lebanon High School. Payne was invited back to the city of Lebanon to perform and speak about “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound.”

Payne was the bass soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Topeka Symphony. He was guest soloist in Dubois’ “Seven Last Word of Jesus Christ, sang as Tonio in Ozark Lyric Opera’s production of “Pagliacci,” and portrayed Louis Armstrong in the Missouri premiere of Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Opera “The Real Ambassadors” at the Gilloiz Theatre.

Payne has also appeared as guest soloist with Parkview High School’s orchestra in “The Nine,” written by Randall Standridge, in honor of the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock schools. He also performed in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, honoring Metropolitan Opera Diva Grace Bumbry.

Payne debuted at New York City Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, as baritone soloist in the premiere of “Gathering,” which he also performed at his alma mater, the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.

Notable performances include the Springfield and Topeka symphonies (Verdi Requiem and Beethoven Symphony No. 9), Iago (Otello) and Malatesta (Don Pasquale) with Ozark Lyric Opera, and “The Real Ambassadors” with Opera Memphis and Rhodes College. Payne performed the title role of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the Princeton Opera Festival in New Jersey.

Other professional performances include Opera Memphis, Indianapolis Opera, Illinois Opera Theater, Houston Grand Opera, Union Avenue Opera Theatre, Springfield Regional Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre St. Louis, Chicago Opera Theatre, Memphis Symphony, Danville Symphony, Eastern Illinois Symphony, Rockford Symphony, and the Memphis Youth Symphony.

Payne’s favorite singers are the late Luther Vandross and Luciano Pavarotti. Payne continues to lend his voice toward diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Springfield community.



  • Doctor of Musical Arts, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, Voice Performance
  • Master of Music, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, Voice Performance
  • Bachelor of Music, University of Memphis, Voice Performance


  • MUS 135 Voice Class I
  • MUS 153 Voice
  • MUS 253 Voice
  • MUS 353 Voice
  • MUS 498 Senior Recital
  • MUS 653 Voice
  • MUS 753 Voice

Awards and honors

  • Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters “Bear Up” Award
  • “Lunch with an MSU Genius” Award
  • Missouri State University “Bear Bridge” Outstanding Mentor Award
  • Bear Bridge Outstanding Presenter Award
  • Missouri Association of Blacks in Higher Education Award