04 February 2013

28 Days of Black History: Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson was born Febuary 27, 1897 in Philadelphia, PA. Anderson is one of the most celebrated singers of the 20th Century. Anderson was a Contralto Opera Singer. She spent most of her career performing concerts, recitals in major music venues and with famous orchestra's throughout the United States and Europe between 1925-1965.

Anderson was denied permission by the Daughters of The American Revolution (DAR) to perform in front of an integrated audience at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC in 1939. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and several other DAR members renounced their membership due to this incident. With the help of the First Lady and her Husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed Easter Concert, April 9, 1939 at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with over 75,000 people in attendance and over 1 million listening on their radio's.

Anderson also became the first black person to sing at New York City's Metropolitan Opera, January 7, 1955. She performed as Ulrica in Guiseppe Verdi's Un Ballo in Mashera, this also marked the only time she sang an opera roll on stage. Anderson did not want to perform opera roles because of her lack of acting skills.

Anderson served as a delegate to UN's Human Rights Committee and a goodwill ambassador for the US Department of State. She received numerous honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, Kennedy Center Honor, 1978, National Medal of Arts, 1986 and A Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1991.

Anderson died April 8, 1993 of congestive heart failure at the ripe age of 96.

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