Marian Anderson, a talented contralto, was 1 of the astir celebrated singers of each time. She sang successful a assortment of musical genres, ranging from opera to spirituals, and her performances broke radical barriers. Between 1925 and 1965, Anderson performed with orchestras successful large performance halls and recital venues each implicit the United States and Europe. She was besides the archetypal Black creator to sing astatine the Metropolitan Opera House astatine Lincoln Center successful New York.
Here are 10 much intriguing facts astir 1 of the top voices of the 20th century.
February 27, 1897, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
April 8, 1993, Portland, Oregon
"Deep River," "Ave Maria," "He's Got The Whole World successful His Hands"
A young Marian Anderson. / Hulton Deutsch/GettyImages
Born connected February 27, 1897, successful Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marian Anderson's singing endowment was recognized aboriginal on. Her household couldn’t spend lessons, but their section location of worship stepped in. Anderson began performing worldly written for bass, tenor, alto, and soprano voices successful the Union Baptist Church choir erstwhile she was conscionable 6. Eventually, the congregation started a money to wage for Anderson’s aboriginal arsenic a singer.
2. She made a celebrated dependable teacher cry.
Marian Anderson toward the opening of her singing career. / London Express/GettyImages
In precocious school, Anderson earned the attraction of the well-known pedagogue and ethnographer Dr. Lucy Langdon Wilson. She arranged for the talented teen to sing for Giuseppe Boghetti, an operatic tenor and dependable master. In a backstage audition, Anderson performed “Deep River,” an African American spiritual—and Boghetti was moved to tears. He helped motorboat her vocation successful euphony adjacent arsenic Philadelphia’s euphony conservatories turned Anderson distant with their racist admittance policies.
A performance poster of opera vocalist and civilian rights activistic Marian Anderson is displayed astatine the Marian Anderson Residence Museum successful Philadelphia. / Mark Makela/Getty Images
As a young adult, Anderson performed astir Philadelphia, earning accolades portion processing a repertoire of classical European creation songs and African American spiritual music. In 1916, the vocalist Roland Hayes, the archetypal Black classical instrumentalist to achieve planetary prestige, invited Anderson to execute with him successful Boston, sparking a mentorship for the younger performer. Anderson past partnered with pianist Billy King connected tours of the South and Midwest, wherever she performed successful churches and astatine historically Black colleges and universities. Later, Anderson won the attraction of pianist and composer Frank LaForge, who furthered her training.
4. She was the archetypal Black American to motion with Victor Talking Machine Company …
In 1923, she became the archetypal Black vocalist to motion with the Victor Talking Machine Company, past the world’s biggest grounds label, known arsenic RCA Records today. At the company’s workplace successful Camden, New Jersey, Anderson made her first record that featured “Deep River” and different spiritual, “My Way’s Cloudy.”
Anderson later recalled the archetypal clip she heard the record: “I went into the store and connected the gramophone they played ‘Deep River.’ My bosom began to leap similar huffy and I was flustered beyond thing you tin imagine. That was my archetypal acquisition proceeding my dependable connected a gramophone.”
In 1925, Boghetti entered Anderson into the National Music League contention astatine Lewisohn Stadium astatine the City College of New York. The expansive prize was a solo debut astatine the New York Philharmonic. Anderson beat retired implicit 300 different singers with her rendition of “O Mio Fernando,” an aria from Donizetti’s opera “La Favorita.” With her triumph successful the competition, Anderson became the archetypal Black soloist to execute with the New York Philharmonic.
6. Famed composer Jean Sibelius dedicated a opus to her.
Marian Anderson successful a glamorous moment. / CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
In 1930, Anderson went to Europe, wherever she studied with acclaimed Finnish pianist Kosti Vehanen, who would go 1 of her favourite accompanists. While there, she besides met the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. After Anderson performed immoderate of his ain works successful his home, Sibelius honored her by dedicating an alternate version of his creation “Solitude” to her.
Eleanor Roosevelt presents Marian Anderson with the NAACP's 1939 Spingarn Medal. / CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
By the mid-1930s, Anderson had go world-famous. In 1936, archetypal woman Eleanor Roosevelt invited the celebrated vocalist to execute astatine the White House for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and guests. Anderson arrived with her mother, Anna Anderson, and was accompanied by Kosti Vehanen connected piano. With that backstage concert, a lifelong friendship betwixt Anderson and the archetypal woman began. The Roosevelts invited Anderson to sing astatine the White House again successful 1939, erstwhile they hosted King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England.
8. Her show astatine the Lincoln Memorial became a rallying outcry for civilian rights.
In April 1939, Anderson’s promoters contacted the Daughters of the American Revolution to publication the vocalist astatine Constitution Hall, a ample performance venue the radical owned successful Washington, D.C. The DAR’s absorption denied their petition owed to its argumentation of booking lone achromatic artists. Another large venue successful the metropolis rebuffed them for the aforesaid reason. The atrocious publicity reached Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, who arranged for Anderson to sing connected the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (managed by the Interior Department), the site’s archetypal outdoor concert. On April 9, successful beforehand of an integrated assemblage of 75,000 people, Anderson sang “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” an aria by Donizetti, Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” and 3 spirituals: “Gospel Train,” “Trampin,’” and “My Soul is Anchored successful the Lord.” The stirring, symbolic show became a battle outcry for civilian rights and inspired 10-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., who listened to it connected the radio.
In 1955, aft decades arsenic a world-renowned artist, Anderson realized a long-held dream: She performed the pb relation astatine the Metropolitan Opera House successful New York. She starred arsenic the crafty witch Ulrica successful Giuseppe Verdi’s “Un Ballo successful Maschera” (“A Masked Ball”), and with this debut, she officially broke the Met’s colour line. Anderson’s long-overdue Met quality came astir done the efforts of wide manager Rudolf Bing, who, dissimilar his predecessors, acceptable a precedence to prosecute artists of color.
10. Marian Anderson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom successful 1963.
President John F. Kennedy bestowed Anderson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but earlier the ceremonial could instrumentality place, helium was assassinated successful November 1963. After taking office, President Lyndon Johnson did the grant of presenting Anderson with the prestigious medal. “Artist and citizen, she has ennobled her contention and her country, portion her dependable has enthralled the world,” he said during the event.
Anderson retired from performing successful 1965, but she continued to receive awards successful designation of her creator legacy, including the Congressional Gold Medal, the National Medal of Arts, the Kennedy Center Honors, and a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. She passed distant astatine property 96 on April 8, 1993, a time earlier the day of her historical Lincoln Memorial performance.