Passion.

It’s the thing that has fueled some of the great success stories.

When passion is combined with a strong work ethic, a voice that comes along once in a lifetime and a support staff that includes teachers, classmates and family members, you often find greatness.

While the best is yet to come for Fort Osage High School junior tenor D’Angelo Talbot, he’s setting his sights high as his talent has no boundaries.

“From the first time I worked with D’Angelo as a ninth grader, I knew he was something special,” said Music/Arts Institute educational director Cynthia Simmons, who is Talbot’s private voice teacher.

“He’s received No. 1’s at state every single year – and that is very unusual for a freshman and sophomore and difficult for any high school student. He had an unusually short voice change and he takes instruction well – extremely well.

“He’s intelligent, hear can hear a note and reproduce it and he’s highly intelligent. He studies on his own, practices on his own, works on his own – and that’s what sets him apart from so many students. That, and his voice - and what a voice.”

Talbot and his Fort Osage choir mates recently returned from taking a master’s class at Queen’s College in New York. The trip also included working with composer Z. Randall Stroope, as the choir performed “The Dance of Light.”

Talbot and his classmates also attended a Broadway performance of “The Lion King,” after which they met cast members and were able to perform for them.

Choir director Julie Ammons has a video of the cast’s reaction to the Fort Osage choir singing from the seats in the audience.

“It still gives me chills,” Ammons said, “it’s a moment none of us will ever forget.”

She could say the same thing about Talbot’s talent.

“Let’s see, where do I start?” Ammons said, when asked to describe one of the most gifted and honored members of her choir. “First, he is so passionate. He is like a sponge. He just soaks up everything.

“And he works hard – even though he is so talented – and that’s going to make him even better. When we attended the master’s class, with a couple of hundred kids, they asked ‘Who would like to sing?’ And D’Angelo raised his hand and was immediately selected.

“He’s just a special young man, and I have him another year!”

Someone recently asked Talbot what it takes to get to Carnegie Hall, and he listed a passionate response that stated: We will be performing at Carnegie Hall, and it will be one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

“My choir is premiering for Z. Randall Stroope. Personally, I have been a member of regional choirs, district choirs, and the Missouri All-State choir. Most people would tell you that ‘practice, practice, practice’ is the answer. That’s only half true. The other half is determination, sweat and dreaming. I am 16 years old, and you don’t have to take what I say too seriously, but I’m chasing my dreams and it’s gotten me here.

“One day, I hope to sing opera roles at the Met, and recitals around the world. Until then, I will make the most of what I have.”

He brings that same passion to a conversation in the Fort Osage choir room.

“Everyone in my family has some kind of music background. My grandfather performed in a Christian metal group called Barbwire Prophets, so I’m sure I got a lot of my musical talent and ability from him,” Talbot said. “And I’ve always sung pop and rock and even some good ol’ country music.

“But my musical life is centered around classical music, especially opera. I love it. It’s my passion, my life – did I say it was my passion? Because it is.”

While he is grounded and determined to make the most of his high school career, the sky’s the limit for the young man with enough talent to fill any concert hall in the world.

“First and foremost, I want to perform at home so my family and friends can see me,” said Talbot, who was the Lion in the recent high school production of “The Wizard of Oz.” “But I want to perform at the Met, in Italy, all over Europe and Asia – I want to sing for the world.”