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Brenna Sanchez

classical singer, author, gay rights activist, and former literary assistant to writer Langston Hughes, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Abdul's father, Hamid Abdul, was from Calcutta, India, and his mother, Bernice (Shreve) Abdul, was able to trace her ancestry back to the pre-Revolutionary War era. Abdul got his start in theater at a young age, participating in children's theater by age six. He attended John Hay High School and, after graduation, worked as a journalist for the Cleveland Call and Post. He would later go on to earn a diploma from the Vienna Academy of Music in 1962. He also studied at Harvard University, the New School for Social Research, the Cleveland Institute of Music, New York College of Music, and the Mannes College of Music.

In 1951 at age twenty two Abdul relocated to New York City There he began studying music and was ...

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Philip Herbert

Composer, contralto, successful vocal coach, accompanist, and teacher. She was the youngest daughter of the famous African‐American actor Ira Aldridge, and born in Upper Norwood, London. Early on she was educated at a convent school in Belgium. At the age of 17 she was awarded a scholarship to study singing at the Royal College of Music. Her teachers included Jenny Lind and George Henschel for singing, along with Frederick Bridge and Frances Edward Gladstone for harmony and counterpoint.

Aldridge's career was successful and varied, as a contralto until an attack of laryngitis damaged her voice, an accompanist, vocal coach, and later a composer. She accompanied her brother Ira Frederick Aldridge on musical tours until his death in 1886. She also accompanied her sister Luranah in concerts at many well‐known London venues at the turn of the 20th century.

Aldridge also played a seminal ...

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(b Campbell, oh, March 17, 1930). American mezzo-soprano . She studied at Wilberforce University and the Hartford School of Music, later with Sarah Peck More, Zinka Milanov and Paul Ulanowsky. Chosen by Leonard Bernstein to sing in a performance of his Jeremiah Symphony in 1951, she made her opera début the following year in Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts, and later took part in the first complete recording. She made her début with the New York City Opera as Queenie in Kern’s Show Boat; her other roles included Azucena, Mistress Quickly, Jocasta, Eurycleia in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Teresa in La sonnambula and the title role in Joplin’s Treemonisha. She first appeared at the Colón, Buenos Aires, in 1964 as Jocasta in Oedipus Rex and has also sung with Boston Houston San Francisco and Santa Fe opera companies In ...

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Philip Herbert

African‐Americaninternational contralto born in February 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Southern High School, Philadelphia, and her talent was recognized and supported by the black community. Roland Hayes mentored her development. Studies with the famous Giuseppe Boghetti enabled her to win first prize in a competition and gain confidence. Her first recital in New York's Town Hall revealed her unease with foreign languages, and nearly caused her to give up singing. Boghetti encouraged her to go on, but she was unable to forge a career in the United States.

Anderson moved to London in 1925 and stayed with John Payne. She studied with Amanda Aldridge, received coaching in German from Frederic Morena and in French from Madame Pasquier, and met the composer Roger Quilter, who introduced her to fellow musicians. Her European tour was successful, winning the admiration of Jean Sibelius, Arturo Toscanini ...

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Alan Blyth and Max de Schauensee

(b Philadelphia, Feb 27, 1897; d Portland, OR, April 8, 1993). American contralto. After graduating from South Philadelphia High School, she studied in her native city with Giuseppe Boghetti but was refused entry to the Philadelphia Music Academy on racial grounds. Having won first prize in a competition sponsored by the New York PO, she appeared as a soloist with the orchestra at Lewisohn Stadium on 27 August 1925. After further study with Frank La Forge, she made a number of concert appearances in the USA, and her European début took place at the Wigmore Hall, London, in 1930 She was subsequently lionized throughout Europe winning from Toscanini the reported tribute A voice like yours is heard only once in a hundred years By then a mature artist Anderson gained high critical acclaim for her first appearance at Town Hall in New ...

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Claudia Durst Johnson

Born in Philadelphia, Anderson sang in a church choir and at age nineteen began formal voice training. At twenty-three, she made her debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. She later toured in concert in many European and South American capitals. Her foreign acclaim prompted an invitation to tour in the United States, where for two decades she was in demand as a performer of opera and spirituals. In 1939, because she was an African American, Anderson was barred by the Daughters of the American Revolution from performing in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., an event that exposed the depth of racism in America. Her open-air Lincoln Memorial concert that Easter, arranged by Eleanor Roosevelt and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, drew an audience of 75,000 and was broadcast nationally. On 7 January 1955 Anderson became the first African American to sing with the ...

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Robert Fay

Anderson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the first of three daughters of John Berkeley Anderson, an ice and coal peddler, and Anna D. Anderson, who, although trained as a teacher, took in laundry. Throughout her childhood, Anderson's family was poor. Their financial situation worsened when she was twelve. Her father died because of injuries he received at work. Anderson had an urge to make music from an early age, and she was clearly talented. When she was six years old, she joined the junior choir at the church to which her father belonged, Union Baptist, and became known as the “Baby Contralto.” In addition, she taught herself to play the piano, eventually playing well enough to accompany herself during her singing concerts.

Anderson joined the church s senior choir at age thirteen She began singing professionally and touring during high school to earn money for ...

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Antoinette Handy

contralto, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John Berkeley Anderson, a refrigerator room employee at the Reading Terminal Market, an ice and coal dealer, and a barber, and Anne (also seen as “Annie” and “Anna,” maiden name unknown), a former schoolteacher. John Anderson's various jobs provided only a meager income and after his death before Marian was a teenager her mother s income as a laundress and laborer at Wanamaker s Department Store was even less Still as Anderson later recalled neither she nor her two younger sisters thought of themselves as poor When Marian was about eight her father purchased a piano from his brother she proceeded to teach herself how to play it and became good enough to accompany herself Also as a youngster having seen a violin in a pawnshop window she became determined to purchase it and earned the requisite four dollars by ...

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Scott A. Sandage

Marian Anderson's 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington, D.C., marked the symbolic beginning of the civil rights movement. Born to a poor family in Philadelphia, Anderson came to public attention in 1924 as the winner of a New York Philharmonic voice competition. Because the color line impeded American bookings, the contralto studied and performed in Europe for several years. In 1935, the impresario Sol Hurok brought Anderson back for a successful New York concert. Thereafter, she toured the United States as an acclaimed soloist and sang at the White House in 1936. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to allow the singer to perform at Constitution Hall, stating explicitly that their auditorium was available to “white artists only.” First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt publicly resigned from the DAR in protest African American leaders from Howard University and from the NAACP arranged ...

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Mildred Denby Green

When Marian Anderson was just eight years old, her aunt presented her at a fund-raising church program as the “Baby Contralto.” Two years earlier, Anderson had joined the junior choir at the Union Baptist Church in Philadelphia. More than anything else, she loved to sing. Music and musical instruments fascinated her at home and in school.

Article

Susan Edwards

opera singer. Marian Anderson was born on 27 February 1897 in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the first of three daughters born to Anna and John Anderson. Nicknamed the “baby contralto” for her lush, deep voice when she sang in local churches as a child, Anderson fought hard to foster her career in Europe and the United States, and in the process she became an advocate for civil rights in the United States.

When Anderson was twelve years old her father died from a head injury sustained while working at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market. He was thirty-four years old, and his death left his widow, Anna with three young daughters to raise They moved in with Marian s paternal grandparents Anna had been a teacher before she married Marian s father but she was not credentialed in Pennsylvania To keep her family together Anna took in laundry and worked ...

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Alan Blyth

(b New York, Feb 2, 1937). American soprano. She studied at Hunter College, New York, and (with Grace Bumbry) won the 1958 Metropolitan Opera Auditions. That year she sang in the American première of Pizzetti’s L’assassinio nella cattedrale at Carnegie Hall. After taking minor roles at the Metropolitan, she went to Europe, for major roles at Vienna, Düsseldorf, Berlin, Frankfurt and Zürich (where she was under contract from 1963 to 1968). In 1965 she was a substitute Aida for Birgit Nilsson at the Metropolitan; she played there all the major Verdi parts that formed the basis of her repertory, as well as Donna Anna, Cio-Cio-San, Liù, Santuzza, Gioconda and Elsa. She made her London début as Valentine at a concert performance of Les Huguenots in 1968 the year of her first Covent Garden appearance as Aida Her rich powerfully projected voice heard to greatest ...

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Wallace McClain Cheatham

opera singer and college professor, was born in New York, the second child of Demetrio Arroyo, a mechanical engineer who moved to the United States from Puerto Rico at eleven years of age, and Lucille Washington Arroyo, a Charleston, South Carolina native. Her father studied engineering at the University of Florida and worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. With the exception of piano lessons from her mother and occasional singing at church, Arroyo received very little musical training during her childhood. Her family, however, ensured that films, concerts, plays, and other performances were a part of her upbringing.

After completing junior high school, Arroyo attended the Hunter College–operated special high school for gifted children. Her interest in opera, which took root during those years, developed from her experience with the Hunter College Opera Workshop. Upon listening to her performance of the “Jewel Song,” a piece from Gounod'sFaust ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Washington dc, May 14, 1948). American soprano. She studied at the University of Maryland, College Park, and at the Catholic University of America. She made her début in 1973 as Virtue (L’incoronazione di Poppea) at Washington, DC, where in 1974 she sang Minerva in the American première of Il ritorno d’Ulisse. In 1975 she sang the title role of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha at Houston and later on Broadway, also recording the opera. Having won the 1975 Metropolitan Auditions, she made her début with the company as Pamina in 1977, then sang Climene in Cavalli’s Egisto at Wolf Trap. In 1978 she sang the first Mermaid (Oberon) and Ruggiero (Tancredi) with Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall. She sang Monteverdi’s Poppaea at Spoleto (1979), Innsbruck (1980) and Santa Fe (1986 ...

Article

Richard Dyer and Elizabeth Forbes

(b Portsmouth, OH, Aug 13, 1948). American soprano. She studied with Franklin Bens at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory, and in the early 1970s she was engaged by James Levine for both the Ravinia Festival and the Metropolitan Opera. She made her début in 1976 as Susanna with New York City Opera. In 1977 she sang Oscar at San Francisco, then made her Metropolitan début as the Shepherd in Tannhäuser, subsequently singing Rosina, Despina, Zerlina, Blonde, Pamina, Zdenka, Strauss’s and Massenet’s Sophie and Handel’s Cleopatra. She made her British début in 1979 at Glyndebourne as Nerina (Haydn’s La fedeltà premiata) and sang Adina at Zürich in 1980. At Salzburg she has sung Despina, Susanna and Zerlina. She made her Covent Garden début in 1985 as Zerbinetta, returning as Norina in 1990. In 1993 she sang Marie (La fille du régiment at San ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, Kathleen Battle began singing in church as a child. She received B.A. and M.A. degrees in music from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Battle's professional debut as an opera singer was at the 1972 Spoleto Festival in Italy.

Within only a few ...

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Luca Prono

lyric coloratura soprano, was the youngest of seven children born in Portsmouth, Ohio, to Grady Battle, a steelworker from Alabama who belonged to a gospel quartet, and Ollie Layne Battle. Together with her six older siblings, Kathleen Deanna Battle experienced the gospel music of her African Methodist Episcopal Church from a very early age. Battle studied at Portsmouth High School with Charles Varney and began piano lessons at the age of twelve.

She considered using her National Achievement Scholarship, which she was awarded in 1966, to study mathematics at the University of Cincinnati, but she graduated instead from the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music with a degree in music education in 1970 The following year Battle received a master s degree from the same institution After graduation Battle worked as a music teacher for fifth and sixth graders in a Cincinnati inner city school for two ...

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Hattie Ruth Roberts

Battle, one of the most acclaimed African American lyric sopranos, has entertained audiences all over the world. She has appeared in some of the world’s greatest opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera and the opera houses of Paris, Vienna, San Francisco, and Chicago, and made major appearances at the festivals at Salzburg, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Caramoor, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Mann Music Center, and at Cincinnati’s May Festival.

Kathleen Deanne Battle was born in Portsmouth, Ohio. Her father, Grady Battle, was a steelworker, and her mother, Ollie Battle a homemaker Battle grew up in a musical family the youngest of seven children and learned to sing at a very early age listening to her father who was a member of a gospel quartet Her sister taught her to read music and as she grew older she began playing the organ and piano She excelled in public schools ...

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Jason Philip Miller

activist and performer, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, one of three children born to John and Mary Betsch, both of whom worked for the Afro-American Life Insurance Company. The family was both well off and well known. Indeed, much of the Betsch family history can be traced through the important civil rights developments in the state of Florida. Her family was among the first black millionaires in the state. Of particular significance to MaVynee's life was the influence of her great-grandfather, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, who in the early 1930s founded American Beach, one of the only beach resorts and, eventually for African Americans, among the only available oceanfront properties in the state. It was in service of American Beach and its legacy that Betsch would spend most of her adult life and for which she became famous.

MaVynee s upbringing was steeped in both education and music ...

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(b Waco, tx, Dec 29, 1898; d Hollywood, ca, July 14, 1943). American baritone . He studied at Central Texas College, Bishop and Virginia Union College, and then at Columbia University Medical School, but abandoned the idea of a career in medicine. He made his début at the Aeolian Hall, New York, in April 1924. He appeared in W. Frank Harling’s hybrid opera Deep River and Gruenberg’s The Creation and In Abraham’s Bosom, and then in 1927 created the role of Joe in Kern’s Show Boat, a role he also sang in the first film version in 1929. Later roles in opera included the Voodoo Man in Shirley Graham du Bois’ Tom-Tom and Amonasro in Aida, and the title roles in Boris Godunov and Gruenberg’s The Emperor Jones He was one of the first African American singers to appear in ...