Friday, February 27, 2015

Marian Anderson: "A Voice Heard Once In A Hundred Years"

1940 Portrait of Marian Anderson by Carl Van Vechten

When Marian Anderson passed away in 1993 at the age of 96 the world lost one of the finest voices of the 20th century. She swept to international fame in 1939 with a public performance at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) had denied her the opportunity to perform in their venue, Constitution Hall, because she was black. The decision didn't sit well with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who sat on the national board of directors of the DAR. Mrs.Roosevelt intervened and helped arrange one of the iconic events of our time.

In commemoration of Anderson's birthday on this day in 1897, here is a documentary, Portrait of Marian Anderson, produced for the Greater Washington Telecommunications Association and first aired on public television on May 8, 1991. I normally don't post lengthy audiovisuals but this one affords viewers a flexible opportunity to learn about her life, listen to her singing, and hear her personal observations on an extraordinary life that included seven decades on the stage. 

Title quote is attributed to the noted conductor, Arturo Toscanini 
Anderson portrait, Carl Van Vechten Collection, Library of Congress

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