February 17, 1902, or February 27, 1897 as stated in her birth certificate. Her parents were John and Anna Anderson. John worked as a loader at the Reading Terminal Market, while Anna was a teacher. Marian was the eldest of 3 daughters.
April 8, 1993 in Portland, Oregon due to heart failure. She was married to Orpheus H. Fisher, an architect.
Her first foray into singing was at 6 years old as a chorus member at Union Baptist Church. It was there where she earned the nickname "The Baby Contralto." She first attended William Penn High School before transferring to South Philadelphia High School where she further explored her love for singing and performing. At 15, she started taking voice lessons with soprano Mary Saunders Patterson and later with contralto Agnes Reifsnyder. At 19 she became a student of Giuseppe Boghetti who taught her for a year free of charge.
In 1919, she sang at the National Baptist Convention and in 1924, had a concert at New York’s Town Hall. The said concert was poorly attended which discouraged the young singer. However, she bounced back by joining competitions (i.e. Lewisohn Stadium competition) and winning. Her performance with the Philharmonic Orchestra was a success; not long after she started touring the United States, Europe, Latin America, India and Australia. She sang lieder, oratorios
, spirituals and the works of Bach
, Mahler and Sibelius
, among others.
December 30, 1928 - Carnegie Hall in New York
September 16, 1930 - Wigmore Hall in London
Performed for King Gustav in Stockholm
Performed for King Christian in Copenhagen
Performed for composer Jean Sibelius who later dedicated a song ("Solitude") to her
1935 - Performed at the Mozarteum festival in Salzburg
December 20, 1935 - Performed for a second time at New York's Town Hall; this time it was a success
Performed at the White House for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his guests King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Britain.
1955 - Performed at the New York Metropolitan Opera as Ulrica in Guiseppe Verdi's Un ballo in maschera; she was the first African American to sing there
Sang at the inauguration of Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy
April 19, 1965 - Final concert at Carnegie Hall
Marian Anderson faced struggles because of her race. In 1939, the impresario Sol Hurok was trying to arranger a performance for Marian at the Constitutional Hall in New York. His request was turned down because only white artists were allowed to perform there at that time. On April 9, 1935, with the help and support of some musicians, political figures and the public, Marian Anderson performed at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with around 75,000 people in attendance. In 1943, she performed at the Constitution Hall for a benefit concert.
Marian Anderson received a scholarship from the National Association of Negro Musicians to study in Britain. She also received a scholarship from the Julius Rosenwald Fund. She became a goodwill ambassador for the United States when she was made a delegate by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Other accolades she received are: the Springarn Medal (1939), Bok award (1941), American Medal of Freedom (1963) and National Medal of Arts (1986). In 1956, her autobiography "My Lord, What A Morning" was published. In 1991, she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Women in History. Marian Anderson biography. In Lakewood Public Library. Retrieved from http://www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/ande-mar.htm
Marian Anderson. (2012). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/23623/Marian-Anderson