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Marian Anderson, (born February 27, 1897, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.—died April 8, 1993, Portland, Oregon), American singer, one of the finest contraltos of her time. Marian Anderson sang in the Baptist church choir of Philadelphia when she was six. But she only received a real musical education from the age of 17. In 1925 she won first prize in a singing competition from among 300 applicants and was then allowed to perform with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. In the early 1930s she toured Europe and performed in places like Berlin, London and Paris as well as in Spain, Poland, Italy, Latvia and Russia for the monarchs of Norway, Sweden, England and Denmark. The composer Jean Sibelius and the conductor Arturo Toscanini, who conducted several concerts for her, praised her voice as a talent of the century. In 1939 the Conservative Women's Association Daughters of the American Revolution prevented Anderson from performing on the stage at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. because of her skin color. Thereupon Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the then President Franklin D. Roosevelt, resigned from the organization in protest against this racial discrimination. The Roosevelts then organized an open-air concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, attended by around 75,000 people.

On January 7, 1955, Marian Anderson appeared as Ulrica in Verdi's opera Un ballo in maschera as first African-American soloist at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. In 1957, Marian Anderson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1958 she represented the USA as an envoy to the United Nations. In 1961 she sang the national anthem during the inauguration of John F. Kennedy as a sign of the intended equality of African American people. In 1963, Kennedy awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1965, Marian Anderson ended her career and lived in seclusion with her husband, the architect Orpheus Fischer, on a farm in Connecticut. In 1970 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Michigan State University. In 1978 she received the Congressional Gold Medal of the US Congress and the Kennedy Prize, in 1986 the National Medal of Arts and in 1991 the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Current album

Marian Anderson - Beyond the Music

Artists Marian Anderson

Release Date: 08/27/2021

Beyond the Music is a special 15-CD edition celebrating contralto Marian Anderson, the first Black singer at the Met. On April 9, 1939, a cold Easter Sunday, a woman in a fur coat walked down the steps of Lincoln Memorial, ready to perform open-air after being refused the largest hall in Washington because she was Black. As contralto Marian Anderson raised her voice to sing the words of My Country, ’Tis of Thee to the 75,000 who gathered to listen to her, an unforgettable historic moment unfolded. The great voice of “The Lady from Philadelphia,” first discovered by her local neighborhood, took her to global fame on the stages of Europe, Asia, and America. She became the first Black woman to perform at the Met in New York, she sang for presidents and kings, was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and with her dignity, courage, and unwavering belief in equal rights she became an icon in her supportive role for the civil rights movement. 

The present edition is the first release of Marian Anderson’s complete recorded legacy for RCA Victor. Along with the first-ever complete release of her legendary Farewell Recital at Constitution Hall in 1964, many recordings appear here on CD for the first time. From her debut in 1924 for the Victor label to her last LP from 1966, all recordings have been meticulously restored and remastered from the original analog masters using 24 bit / 96 kHz technology. 72 works are appearing on CD for the first time, 9 recordings previously unreleased.  The 228-page coffee-table book is richly illustrated with numerous photos and facsimiles, a new essay by Raymond Arsenault – author of The Sound of Freedom and Freedom Riders – and full discographical notes. It is a homage to the artistic life of a singer “one is privileged to hear only once in a hundred years” (Toscanini) and who left us a legacy of humanity, generosity, talent, and faith.