The Late Great Marian Anderson And The Inner Power of Singing.

The Marian Anderson legacy is one that is probably not just about the inner power of singing but also the power of feminism and racial equality in an age before such terms were even conceived.

In 1939, the DAR refused to let Marian Anderson sing in DC’s Constitution Hall because she was black. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR, and her husband’s administration arranged an outdoor concert at the Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of 75,000 and millions of radio listeners. Anderson was the first African American to sing with the Metropolitan Opera, and in 1958 became a delegate to the United Nations.-From Kentuckians Against the War on Women 

To commemorate the month of Women’s Awareness, I choose to pay homage to the late and great Marian Anderson. Being musically conscious at an early age, I heard about her in high school. There were music magazines that covered music as diverse as Jazz and Classical. She’s one those names that usually and still pops out of trivia about the list of great women in history. Yes she’s the first African-American woman to sing at Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of 75,000 and millions of radio listeners. And her  recorded voice? It is something that takes your breath away.

Marian Anderson has a kind of voice that has a light woody characteristic. Something that can be  associated with wooden flute or clarinet. It isn’t strident, which is usually associated with most opera singers. It isn’t pinched or nasal. It is unique. She is dubbed as contralto but she can sing soprano. In an era where sound recordings were primitive and brass sounds were harsh, she took advantage of the microphone in a way that could not be found in other singers except crooners. And even crooners can sometimes deliver pinched characteristic of singing at such low fi technology.  She was ahead of her time. It is sad to realize now that the world wasn’t ready for her during her time.

According to  her bio:

After high school, Marian applied to an all-white music school, the Philadelphia Music Academy (now University of the Arts), but was turned away because she was black. The woman working the admissions counter replied, “We don’t take colored” when she tried to apply. Undaunted, Anderson pursued studies privately with Giuseppe Boghetti and Agnes Reifsnyder in her native city through the continued support of the Philadelphia black community. She met Boghetti through the principal of her high school. Marian auditioned for him singing ‘Deep River’ and he was immediately brought to tears.

Marian Anderson left an enduring legacy to writers and artists. Countless album tributes, concerts and books were written about her life. The inspiration she left to all women of the world is unquestionable. That historic voice will live on. Such grace will always find new listeners.

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