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.