By Abiodun Scott
A brief highlight reel of Marian Anderson, the contralto whose voice broke through racial barriers
After being barred from singing at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall (DAR Constitution Hall), Anderson sang in front of the Lincoln Memorial, garnering 75,000 guests, far more than the DAR Constitution Hall could’ve fit. On her decision to change she changed the pronouns of “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee” to be all inclusive, she stated: “We cannot live alone. And the thing that made this moment possible for you and for me has been brought about by many people whom we will never know.”
In what she considered to be one of her greatest accomplishments, Anderson joined New York’s Metropolitan Opera in the role of the sorcerer Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball). She was the first African American singer to perform in a lead role at the Metropolitan Opera, for which she received worldwide praise.
Since first performing at Carnegie Hall in 1920, Marian Anderson found a second home for herself there. She cemented her place there by becoming one of the original board members of The Carnegie Hall Corporation when the Hall was saved from demolition. Holding more than 50 performances through the mid-1970s, she is a mainstay in the hall’s history.