When you hear the name Marian Anderson (1897-1993) the only thing that comes to mind is one of the most noted African American singers of the 20th century. The contralto had a strong and vibrant voice that developed in times of racial prejudice.
Anderson broke barriers for many African American women such as Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys who are now able to perform at major events like the Inauguration and Super Bowl. After being denied the right to sing in Constitution Hall in 1939 by the Daughters of the American Revolution, the world eventually began to pay attention.
That same year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor made the world forget about race for a moment and allowed Anderson to do an open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Easter Sunday of 1939. A crowd of more than 75,000 watched her perform.
By 1955, Marian became the first African American to sing at the Metropolitan Opera. Later on she sang at President Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. She also lent her vocals to entertain troops during WWII. Marian lived a full life and died at the age of 96 due to heart failure. Her legacy has inspired thousands of writers and artists to persevere and break barriers.
Her voice and music will forever be a staple in the world of music.