Marian Anderson

marian-anderson-02

Quote: “Everyone has a gift for something, even if it is the gift of being a good friend”

Deemed one of the finest contraltos of her time, Marian Anderson became the first African American to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1955. An acclaimed singer whose performance at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 helped set the stage for the civil rights era, Marian Anderson was born on February 27, 1897, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The oldest of three girls, Anderson was just 6 years old when she became a choir member at the Union Baptist Church, where she earned the nickname “Baby Contralto.” Her father, a coal and ice dealer, supported his daughter’s musical interests and, when Anderson was eight, bought her a piano. With the family unable to afford lessons, the prodigious Anderson taught herself.

By the late 1930s, Anderson’s voice had made her famous on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States she was invited by President Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor to perform at the White House, the first African American ever to receive this honor. Much of Anderson’s life would ultimately see her breaking down barriers for African-American performers. Despite Anderson’s success, not all of America was ready to receive her talent. In 1939 her manager tried to set up a performance for her at Washington, D.C.’s Constitution Hall. But the owners of the hall, the Daughters of the American Revolution informed Anderson and her manager that no dates were available. That was far from the truth. The real reason for turning Anderson away lay in a policy put in place by the D.A.R. that committed the hall to being a place strictly for white performers.

Her final years were spent in Portland, Oregon, where she’d moved in with her nephew. She died there of natural causes on April 8, 1993.

Biography.com

Quote: “Everyone has a gift for something, even if it is the gift of being a good friend”

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