Today in Black HERstory: Marian Anderson
Today in Black HERstory, Marian Anderson was born. She's the first African-American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. Anderson was born to a babysitter mother and ice and coal miner father, and her love of music began early, at the Union Baptist Church in South Philadelphia. Her parents realized her music abilities, and bought her a piano. They couldn't afford lessons, so Marian taught herself and joined the church choir.
Her aunt Mary was also a choir singer, and she encouraged her niece by taking her along to performances at church, the YMCA and any other benefits and community events. Marian was paid 25 cents for her performances as a child, which increased to $5 by the time she was a teenager.
Upon graduation from high school in 1921, she was denied entry into the Philadelphia Music Academy due to racial segregation, but she didn't quit. She began taking private lessons with the noted teacher Giuseppe Boghetti, for whom she auditioned and he was duly impressed and agreed to take her on as a student. The black community in Philadelphia raised the funds for her to continue her music education. In 1925, she won the first prize in a singing competition sponsored by the New York Philharmonic and was given the opportunity to perform in concert with the orchestra.
In 1928, she performed at Carnegie Hall, then traveled to Europe, touring several countries and partnering with various artists. Back in the US, even with racial barriers, she was able to perform in New York at Town Hall, and at Constitution Hall, where President Roosevelt was in attendance.
On January 7, 1955, Marian Anderson became the first black person to sing at the Metropolitan Opera. Anderson was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Kennedy. In 1991, she received a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. She spent the final years of her life in Oregon, where she died in 1993 at the age of 96.
Salute a queen when you see one! Happy birth day to the incomparable Marian Anderson!!