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 Ermine <I>Hall</I> Allen

Ermine Hall Allen

Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, USA
Death 5 Sep 1996 (aged 86)
Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA
Burial Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, USA
Plot Section 90
Memorial ID 43992167 · View Source
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The critics dubbed Ermine Hall Allen "the vest-pocket Marian Anderson" because she was short - only 4 feet 9 inches tall - and had such a rich contralto voice.

But there were other similarities- She broke down racial barriers, just as Anderson did.

Ermine was the first African American singer to perform with the St. Paul Civic Opera, and she traveled throughout the country in the 1960's, when the civil rights movement was in full throat, singing the spirituals spawned by the trials and tribulations of American slaves.

"The Negro spiritual is almost an entirely different musical form when authentically interpreted by a singer who understands this rich, powerful folk music", wrote Minneapolis Tribune critic Allan Holbert after Ermine's performance at Northrup Auditorium in Minneapolis.

She said that to present the slaves songs effectively, the singer had to "feel the heartache and the pain that Negroes know. Even on the joyous spirituals, you can't do them right unless you've known the feeling of sorrow."

Ermine's first performances were impromptu affairs. At about age 10, she and her sister Dorothy serenaded doughboys as they left St. Paul to fight in World War I. By the time she was 16, she was a soloist at Pilgrim Baptist Church in St. Paul.

She studied at the Minnesota College of Music and Macalester College Conservatory of Music and performed locally in church choirs. She was an active member of the artist section of the St. Paul Schubert Club, and was a member of several other organizations, including the Golden Agers Club and the Credjafawn Social Club. She also served time on the board of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul.

Family Members






  • Maintained by: Stephen Crawford
  • Originally Created by: duck duck goose
  • Added: 6 Nov 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 43992167
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Ermine Hall Allen (17 Jan 1910–5 Sep 1996), Find A Grave Memorial no. 43992167, citing Oakland Cemetery, Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, USA ; Maintained by Stephen Crawford (contributor 47511630) .