Monday, April 13, 2009

Remembering Marian Anderson

Classical music critic Alex Ross has an interesting article in The New Yorker about African-American contralto Marian Anderson.

This month marks the 70th anniversary of Anderson's concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, after she was denied permission by the Daughters of the American Revolution to sing at Constitution Hall because it was only open to white artists.

Yesterday, in a tribute concert re-creating that historic event, African-American opera singer Denyce Graves performed the three songs Anderson sang 70 years ago: "America," "O, Mio Fernando" and "Ave Maria."

Ross has a link to Anderson's performance of "America." You can watch it here, too. And historian Raymond Arsenault has written a book about the events leading up to and after that concert in 1939, called The Sound of Freedom.

What a great reminder that some of the things we once thought of as immutable traditions, maybe even "justified" by the Bible, weren't so immutable or justifiable after all.


C.J. Pitchford said...

Thanks for posting the link of the performance -- I want to show that to my kids!

Esther said...

Oh wow, you're welcome. That's great! I wanted to put up the actual video clip but it said on YouTube that embedding had been disabled. Luckily it's still available to watch!