Other famous black operatic singers like Leontyne Price and
Kathleen Battle have attributed their desire to pursue a professional
singing career to Marian Anderson, whose contralto voice Norman said, "I
listened, thinking, 'This can't be just a voice, so rich and beautiful.'
It was a revelation. and I wept." Several other black divas
preceded Anderson, but she was the first credited with breaking the glass
ceiling of race and become internationally acclaimed.
Marian was thought to be born in Philadelphia, PA on Feb.
17, 1902 (although her death certificate records her birthdate as Feb. 27, 1897)
to her father, a coal salesman, and her mother, a former teacher. She
early showed giftedness in music beginning with the violin and switching to
voice. The black community provided financial help to train her as she
came under the tutelage of tenor Roland Hayes. She first experienced
racism when applying for entrance to music school. She walked away and was
later able to obtain free lessons from a teacher. She studied further with
tenor/coach Giuseppe Boghetti, and gained confidence and knowledge as he guided
her with public performances.
She gave her first recital in 1924 at New York's Town
Hall, and showed her dislike of singing foreign languages, almost ending her
career. Unable to get her career going in the States, Anderson traveled to
London in 1925. She visited Germany and Finland, and met composer Jean
Sibelius who dedicated his "Solitude" to her. During the
following ten years, she performed extensively in Europe and a noted appearance
at the 1935 Mozart Festival in Austria. The Archbishop of Salzburg
requested an encore of "Ave Maria" and Arturo Toscanini exclaimed,
"Yours is a voice one hears once in a hundred years."
She returned to the U.S. in 1935 to give a recital at Town Hall which the
critics loved. Under the direction of Sol Hurok, Anderson
became the third highest box office draw. Paralleling her success on stage
was continued racial discrimination with accommodations and restaurants.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt asked her to sing at the Lincoln Memorial on April
9, 1939 and a crowd of 75,000 people along with myriads of radio listeners gave
her rave reviews to counter a previous concert date at Constitution Hall
in Washington that the Daughters of the American Revolution prevented her from
In 1954, when Anderson was 57 yrs. she was asked sing at
the Metropolitan Opera. She has sung for heads of state, received numerous
awards from presidents, honorary doctorates from many universities, and at the
inauguration of Eisenhower and Kennedy. She retired in 1965 after singing
a farewell concert conducted by her nephew James Priest. Anderson died of
congestive heart failure in April 1993 at 96 yrs. old. In June, 2000
admirers attended a memorial service at Carnegie Hall in New York
"I have never been able to analyze the qualities that the
audience contributes to a
performance. The most important I think, are sympathy,
open-mindedness, expectancy, faith, and a certain support to your effort.
I know that my career could not have been what it is without all these things,
which have come from many people. The knowledge of the feelings other
people have expended on me has kept me going when times were hard. That
knowledge has been a responsibility, a challenge, and an inspiration. It has
been the path to development and growth. The faith and confidence of
others in me have been like shining, guiding stars." -- Marian
by Jane Harter
is not affiliated with the authors of these links nor responsible for each
... Marian captures the spirit and then sets it
free.". Artist Marian Anderson
is nationally acclaimed with numerous awards and achievements. ... Description: Nationally known artist Marian Anderson
paintings reflect her love for life and nature. Her subjects...
Biography of Marian
Biography of Marian Anderson: singer. Marian Anderson was born on February 27,
1897 in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ... biography of marian anderson.
Opera Shop: Marian Anderson
Marian Anderson (1897-1993). Mon ... Saëns.
I have met Marian Anderson
twice; one time after a concert and the other after a lecture. ...
Marian Anderson. (1897-1993). Marian Anderson,
an African-American contralto,
was born on February 27, 1897 in Philadelphia to John and Anna Anderson. ...
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