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Marian Anderson was born in 1897 in Philadelphia, PA. and would later become one of the world’s greatest Contraltos of her time. Marian started singing at the age of six in her church choir. Members of her church were so wowed by her voice that they pitched in and started a fund to help her get vocal lessons for a year. By the age of 19, Marian was touring with the Philadelphia Symphony. In 1930 she made her debut in Europe and proved to be very successful during her time touring there.
In 1939, however, she attempted to rent concert facilities in Washington, D.C.’s Constitution Hall, owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was refused because of her race. This sparked widespread protest from many people, including Eleanor Roosevelt, who, along with many other prominent women, resigned from the DAR. Arrangements were made for Anderson to appear instead at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, and she drew an audience of 75,000. On January 7, 1955, she became the first African American singer to perform as a member of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Before she began to sing her role of Ulrica in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, she was given a standing ovation by the audience.
List of Accomplishments:
- In 1928, Anderson sang at the Carnegie Hall for the first time.
- In 1955, Marian Anderson became the first African-American to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera at the age of 58.
- In 1958, Anderson was designated delegate to the Unite Nations. Prior to that she served as a “good will ambassador” for the United States
- In 1972, she was awarded the UN Peace Prize
- Retiring in 1965, Anderson was later awarded a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1991.
- Her documentary film, Marian Anderson: the Lincoln Memorial Concert, has been preserved in the United States National Film Registry
- In 2005, Marian Anderson was honored by the US Postal Service. She is the 28th stamp in their Black Heritage Series.
- In 2006, a statue was made in her honor by Meredith Bergmann. The bronze statute can be seen on the campus of Converse College in Spartanburg, SC