Marian Anderson


Marian Anderson

Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 8 Apr 1993 (aged 96)
Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA
Burial Collingdale, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot Celestine 1158
Memorial ID 1811 View Source
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Opera Singer, Social Reformer. A classical music pioneer and Opera Singer, she was a contralto known for her wide-ranging repertory of art songs, opera arias, and spirituals. She was one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she was the eldest of three daughters. She first developed her musical ability at the Union Baptist Church of Philadelphia where she joined the junior choir at age 6 and the senior choir at 13. In her first public appearance, she sang a solo in the hymn "Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd." By her early teens she was a natural contralto, but her range was so wide that she was often substituted for absent choir members by singing soprano, tenor, or even bass up an octave from the written part. At an early age she began singing at functions outside her church, and admirers soon called her the "baby contralto." After high school, she kept concertizing in Southern schools and churches. She gave her earnings to her parents, who used the money to buy their own home. She soon developed into a world renowned opera singer, performing around the world. She was also the first African-American to sing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in September of 1954. Early in 1939 Marian Anderson became the subject of national attention when she wanted to sing to an integrated audience at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C., which is owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her request was denied as at that time in history a segregated audience was the common practice in the South. Anderson sang at Constitutional Hall to integrated audiences in 1943, 1953, 1955 and again in 1964. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest and encouraged Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, to arrange for Marian Anderson instead to give a free concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday April 9, 1939. The concert drew about seventy-five thousand people, including members of Congress and Supreme Court justices as well as ordinary citizens. That July, Eleanor Roosevelt presented Anderson with the prestigious Spingarn Medal of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. During World War II, she gave many concerts to support the war effort. In July of 1943 she married Orpheus Hodge "King" Fisher, a New York architect she had known since her teens. She later published her autobiography "My Lord, What a Morning" in 1956. She continued her concert tours until her retirement in the mid 1960s, and received many important awards during her lifetime. In 1963 she and Ralph Bunche became the first African-American recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She also received the Kennedy Center Honor for her lifetime achievements in 1978, the first Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award from New York City in 1984, and a Grammy Award for her lifetime achievement in 1991. She died at the home of the conductor James DePreist, her nephew, in Portland, Oregon, in April 1993 at the age of ninety-six.

Bio by: Curtis Jackson

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1811
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Marian Anderson (27 Feb 1897–8 Apr 1993), Find a Grave Memorial ID 1811, citing Eden Cemetery, Collingdale, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .