marian anderson

Marian Anderson

Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015

On January 7, 1955 Marian Anderson became the first African American to perform at the New York Metropolitan Opera. One of our nation’s most gifted contraltos, Ms. Anderson was born in Philadelphia on February 27, 1897. She was 6 years old when she joined the Union Baptist Church choir and earned the nickname “Baby Contralto”. Marian’s parents scraped together enough money to buy a piano, but she was self-taught because the family didn’t have money for voice lessons. However, the church members were so impressed with her talent they raised $500 to fund vocal lessons under Giuseppe Boghetti, a noted voice teacher.

Under Boghetti’s tutelage, Marian won the opportunity to compete in a contest organized by the New York Philharmonic Society at Lewisohn Stadium in New York. In 1928 she performed at Carnegie Hall; then won a Julius Rosenwald Scholarship and was able to tour through Europe.

While Anderson’s fame as a singer grew, she still faced racial prejudice. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution denied her use of the Constitution Hall in Washington DC for a concert. Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest and arranged for Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter morning. 75,000 people attended the concert, which was broadcast live on radio.

Later Marian Anderson sang at the presidential inaugurations of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. She was appointed a delegate to the Thirteenth General Assembly of the United Nations in 1958 and was awarded the UN Peace Prize in 1977.

Marian Anderson’s farewell performance was in 1965. She died of natural causes on April 8, 1993.

Marian Anderson sings at the Lincoln Memorial

Hear Marian Anderson Sing

Welcome to 365 Stories. On December 12, 1955 Troy Township was incorporated as the City of Troy. A great deal has changed in our local community, the State of Michigan, our country and the world in the last sixty years. Technology, communication, environmental awareness, human rights, medicine, scientific discoveries, global political and economic policies, and even the furnishings and gadgets in our own homes have all changed. Our goal is to publish a different story each day in 2015 that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context.

We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.troyhistoricvillage/facebook. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at  A story should be between 150- 250 words and include at least two references. Attach illustrations as jpegs at 300 dpi. Please respect copyrights when quoting material or attaching images. Also remember that 60 years is a lot of time to cover. We can’t possibly include all noteworthy events. But our collective memory and research will provide a good historic perspective and a wonderful way to actively commemorate this important anniversary year in Troy.

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