B0027. (MARIAN ANDERSON) Allan Keiler. Marian Anderson, A Singer’s Journey. New York, Scribner, 2000. 447pp. Index; Bibliography; Exhaustive Discography; Photos; DJ. Final -copy! - 9780684807119 0-684-80711-4
“In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. The District of Columbia Board of Education declined a request to use the auditorium of a white public high school. As a result of the ensuing furor, thousands of DAR members, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, resigned.
The Roosevelts, with Walter White, then-executive secretary of the NAACP, and Anderson's manager, impresario Sol Hurok, then persuaded Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes to arrange an open air Marian Anderson concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The concert attracted a crowd of more 75,000 of all colors and was a sensation with a national radio audience of millions.
The concert mentioned above was held on Easter Sunday in 1939. Anderson was accompanied by the Finnish accompanist Kosti Vehanen, who introduced Marian to Jean Sibelius in 1933. Sibelius was overwhelmed with Anderson's performance and asked his wife to bring champagne in place of the traditional coffee. At this moment Sibelius started altering and composing songs for Anderson, who was delighted to have met a musician of his magnitude, who felt that she had been able to penetrate the Nordic soul.”
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 10 April, 1939
“Marian Anderson was an American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century. Music critic Alan Blyth said 'Her voice was a rich, vibrant contralto of intrinsic beauty'. Most of her singing career was spent performing in concert and recital in major music venues and with major orchestras throughout the United States and Europe between 1925-1965. Although she was offered contracts to perform roles with many important European opera companies, Anderson declined all of these, preferring to perform in concert and recital only. She did, however, perform opera arias within her concerts and recitals. She made many recordings that reflected her broad performance repertoire of everything from concert literature to lieder to opera to traditional American songs and spirituals.
An African-American, Anderson became an important figure in the struggle for black artists to overcome racial prejudice in the United States during the mid twentieth century. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. Their race-driven refusal placed Anderson into the spotlight of the international community on a level usually only found by high profile celebrities and politicians. With the aid of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed open-air concert on Easter Sunday, 1939 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to a crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience in the millions. She continued to break barriers for black artists in the United States, notably becoming the first black person, American or otherwise, to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on January 7, 1955. Her performance as Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi's UN BALLO IN MASCHERA at the Met was the only time she sang an opera role on stage. Anderson later became an important symbol of grace and beauty during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, notably singing at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. She also worked for several years as a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and as a 'goodwill ambassadress' for the United States Department of State. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Anderson was notably awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1978, the National Medal of Arts in 1984, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991.”
- Zillah D. Akron