Barbara Hendricks tells Jennie Tourel’s Story

Jennie Tourell

Barbara Hendricks’ voice teacher, Jennie Tourel.





Barbara Hendricks, classical singer and UNHCR Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador, shares the story of her mentor, Jennie Tourel.

In 1943 Jennie Tourel fled persecution and maybe death at the hands of the Nazis. She left on one of the last boats allowed out of Marseille, France. She found her way to the USA where she continued her career and eventually became a noted voice teacher at the Juilliard School in New York City.






Barbara Hendricks. Photo by P. Hansen/2010.

Barbara Hendricks. Photo by P. Hansen/2010.


The picture that is most often shown of refugees is one that is confined to their experience of flight, and the urgency of refugee camps. Since 1951 the UNHCR has helped millions of refugees to return home, or to settle in a third country. Countless became productive citizens of their societies.

Jennie Tourel was my voice teacher and the inspiring example of a true artist; I would not be who I am or where I am today without having met and worked with this wonderful ex- refugee.

1 family torn apart by war is too many

Learn more about our work with refugees at