Tenor Limmie Pulliam returned to Madison December 1-3 for three performances in “A Madison Symphony Christmas” in Overture Center’s Overture Hall.

In addition to Pulliam, Madison Symphony Orchestra’s (MSO) traditional and beloved Christmas concert featured aural and visual splendor with soprano Evelyn Saavedra, who recently starred in MSO’s “Voices of Spring” organ gala, the Madison Symphony Chorus, the Madison Youth Choirs and the Mt. Zion Gospel Choir.  

The holiday show was Pulliam’s third appearance in Madison. He performed a show-stopping rendition of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorman” at Madison Opera’s 2022 Opera in the Park and made his main stage debut in Madison Opera’s presentation of “Tosca” in November.  

Pulliam is a freelance artist who travels the world singing with different orchestras and opera companies. 

“While some of my contracts may be acquired through word of mouth and my own networking, I am blessed to have two of the best agents in the business who work tirelessly to match me with opportunities,” he said. 

Pulliam has more than 15 appearances booked so far in the US and Europe for the 2023/24 season. The number of performances and locations varies per year. This spring, he looks forward to performing two shows in Leipzig, Germany, and five shows in Vienna, Austria. 

“I love to travel and I love to sing, so this career affords me to do both,” he said.  

When Pulliam is not on the road, he’s content in his southeast Missouri home.  

“It’s a great place to return to after the hustle and bustle of travel and live performances,” he said.  

Pulliam understands he is one of the lucky ones who gets to travel the world doing what he loves, singing and performing. While this was his original dream after studying opera at Oberlin College, his career took a detour for several years.  

Disheartened by the performing arts industry, he started working for a large concert producer and then started his own firm providing security services. He took a leave of absence from the firm to serve as field organizer with the Missouri leg of then-Senator Obama’s presidential campaign. He was at an event when a local beauty queen didn’t show up to sing the National Anthem. Pulliam’s boss remembered seeing “opera singer” on his resume and asked him to sing the song.  

The one time singing the National Anthem turned into a couple of more times. After years of not seriously singing, Pulliam noticed changes in his voice, changes that piqued his interest. Singing the National Anthem changed the trajectory of his life, leading him back to the opera.  

“I’ve come full circle,” said Pulliam. “All roads have led to where I’m supposed to be.” 

Pulliam recently released a collection of spirituals, “Witness.” Following a year of deeply personal losses, he turned to his ancestral and religious roots to assemble this album that “inspires, uplifts, shakes you to the core before making you whole again.” 

Pulliam has enjoyed his last two Madison visits and singing with MSO and Madison Opera, noting the audiences are gracious and enthusiastic, which goes a long way to making performers feel comfortable.  

“Plus, the staff go above and beyond to help make us artists feel at home. They are the tops in my book,” he said. “Others could learn a lot from them. It truly makes it a joy to come and sing in Madison.” 

Whenever in Madison, Pulliam always finds new places to try Wisconsin’s famous cheese curds, and he is always on the lookout for a good steak at a local supper club. 

“I’d like to explore the Wisconsin fare that everyone raves about,” he said.  

This was Pulliam’s only holiday concert this season, and he really enjoyed it.  

According to Pulliam, “A Madison Symphony Christmas” offered something for everyone. He performed a series of songs, including pieces with the Madison Symphony Chorus and the Mt. Zion Gospel Choir.  

Pulliam loves celebrating the holidays with his family. Together, they enjoy listening to Christmas albums, such as “A Motown Christmas,” and watching Christmas movies.  

“It’s not Christmas without watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” he said. “It’s my favorite Christmas movie, and I usually watch it multiple times.”