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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.

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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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(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 ...

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Dominique-René de Lerma

baritone, was born Julius Lorenzo Cobb Bledsoe in Waco, Texas, the son of Henry L. Bledsoe and Jessie Cobb, occupations unknown. Following his parents' separation in 1899, Jules lived with his maternal grandmother, a midwife and nurse, who encouraged him to appreciate music. After graduating magna cum laude in 1918 from Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, Bledsoe began graduate medical studies at Columbia University, withdrawing after the death of his mother in 1920 to dedicate himself to singing. In 1924 he presented his debut recital at Aeolian Hall in New York.

Bledsoe's first major stage role was as Tizan in the racially mixed opera Deep River by Frank Harling and Laurence Stalling in 1926. That same year he performed in the premiere of Louis Gruenberg'sThe Creation (conducted by Serge Koussevitzky in New York and worked as an actor at the Provincetown Playhouse Bledsoe is best ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

Born in Waco, Texas, Julius C. (Jules) Bledsoe received a B.A. degree in history, composition, and piano in 1918 from Bishop College. He continued his study of voice in the United States and Europe, and he made his professional debut at Aeolian Hall in New York, New York ...

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Alan Blyth

(b New York, Feb 29, 1932). American soprano. She studied in New York while working in the theatre (she was in the first cast of West Side Story, 1957) and made her operatic début in 1959 at Santa Fe as Blonde. She sang the Queen of Night at Cologne (1960) and Zerbinetta at Zürich, where she was engaged from 1961 to 1964. She made her Covent Garden début in 1962 as the Queen of Shemakha (The Golden Cockerel), later singing Olympia, Gilda, Susanna and Oscar (Un ballo in maschera). At San Francisco (1963–9) she sang Rosina, Despina, Sophie, Burgundian Lady (Carmina burana), Adèle and Zerbinetta. She made her Salzburg début as Blonde (1965), returning there as Susanna and Despina. Having made her Metropolitan début in 1966 as Rosina she returned ...

Article

Max de Schauensee

(b Curryville, GA, June 3, 1887; d Boston, Dec 31, 1976). American tenor. He received his general education at Fisk University and had several singing teachers, including Arthur J. Hubbard, Sir George Henschel and Victor Beigel. He made concert tours throughout the USA (1916–20) and in 1921 went to Europe, where he gave recitals and appeared with major orchestras in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Vienna. An outstanding interpreter of black American spirituals, he was equally successful in the classics and the music of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Debussy and Fauré. His sensitive voice and eloquent delivery contributed to an effective performance style. He made a few appearances as late as the 1960s. Hayes was awarded honorary doctorates at Fisk University and Ohio Wesleyan University. He published arrangements of a number of spirituals as My Sons (Boston, 1948).

Article

Philip Herbert

African‐American international tenor born in Georgia, United States, in June 1887, the son of ex‐slaves. When his father died in 1898, Hayes had limited schooling as he had to work to support the family. His mother ensured that he regularly attended church. Here he sang in the choir and founded the Silver‐Toned Quartet. He was inspired to sing by hearing Caruso's recordings, and received vocal tuition from Arthur Calhoun, a local choral director. In 1905 he went to study at Fisk University, and then on to Boston, but, despite success with his continuing vocal studies, recitals, and producing his own recordings, he was unable to get the support of an agent.

On his arrival in London in 1920 Amanda Aldridge helped Hayes to settle and to find representation, along with coaching from George Henschel and Victor Beigel He went on to give a critically acclaimed recital ...

Article

Ann T. Keene

singer, was born in Curryville, Georgia, the son of William Hayes and Fanny (maiden name unknown), tenant farmers and former slaves. Young Roland worked as a field hand from an early age alongside his mother and two brothers. William Hayes had become an invalid following an accident when Roland was an infant, and he died when Roland was twelve. Although neither parent could read or write, Fanny Hayes was determined that her children would get an education However Roland was able to attend local country schools which were inferior and segregated for only a few months at a time when he was not needed in the fields At the age of fifteen he and his family moved to Chattanooga Tennessee as part of his mother s plan to have her sons educated The three boys were to alternate school and work a year at a time with one ...

Article

Roland Willsie Hayes was born in Curryville, Georgia, on the plantation where his mother had been enslaved. He grew up in extreme poverty, but sang in the local church choir and managed to complete the eighth grade. An Oberlin College student heard him sing, and urged him to pursue vocal training. Hayes was, he claimed, “born again” one evening when he heard recordings of opera singer Enrico Caruso and other classical artists.

Hayes attended Fisk University, and was working as a waiter in Louisville, Kentucky, when the president of Fisk invited him to join the famous Fisk Jubilee Singers on a concert tour to Boston, Massachusetts. In Boston a benefactor arranged for voice lessons, and Hayes began studying with Arthur Hubbard in 1911. Hayes worked as a messenger for the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company and sang in black churches. In 1920 he toured ...

Article

(b Portsmouth, VA, Jan 5, 1868/9; d Providence, RI, June 24, 1933). American soprano. From the age of 15 she studied singing in Providence, Rhode Island, and later studied privately in Boston at the New England Conservatory, and with Louise Capianni and Mme Scongia in London. On 5 April 1888 she made her début at Steinway Hall, New York, in a Bergen Star Concert. From 1888 to 1895 she toured the USA, Canada, Europe and the West Indies as a soloist, attracting national attention with her well-publicized appearances at the Grand Negro Jubilee at Madison Square Garden and the White House in 1892, and at the Pittsburgh Exposition and the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. From 1896 to 1915 she was the leading soloist of Black Patti s Troubadours a vaudeville company managed by Rudolf Voelckel and ...

Article

Sissieretta Jones came early to music. Her father was the pastor and choir director of their Portsmouth, Virginia, African Methodist Episcopal Church, and her mother a soprano in the choir. She married at the age of fourteen, and began voice training the next year in Providence, Rhode Island. Jones continued her studies at the New England Conservatory in Boston, making her performance debut in that city in 1887. She acquired the nickname “Black Patti” from a newspaper review that praised her as an African American match for the renowned Italian soprano Adelina Patti.

National fame arrived with Jones's performance at the 1892 Grand Negro Jubilee at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Before an audience of 75,000, she sang selections from the opera La Traviata as well as the song Swanee River This combination of high opera and a popular repertoire continued throughout Jones s ...

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Marta J. Effinger-Crichlow

classical prima donna and musical comedy performer, was born Matilda Sissieretta Joyner in Portsmouth, Virginia, less than four years after the abolition of slavery. Jones was the only surviving child of Jeremiah Malachi Joyner, a former slave and pastor of the Afro-Methodist Church in Portsmouth, and Henrietta B. Joyner, a singer in the church choir. Thus, she was exposed to music during her formative years. When she was six years old her family moved to Rhode Island, where Jones began singing in the church choir, which her father directed. Her school classmates were mesmerized by her sweet, melodic, soprano voice and nicknamed her “Sissy.”

She began studying voice as a teenager at the prestigious Providence Academy of Music with Ada, Baroness Lacombe, an Italian prima donna. Not long afterward, in 1883, when she was only fourteen, Sissieretta met and married David Richard Jones a newspaperman ...

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Diane Epstein

Discovering Sissieretta Jones is like uncovering a buried treasure. In the twenty-first century, her name may not be a household word, but she was a well-known and respected performer in her time.

Jones was born Matilda Sissieretta Joyner in 1869 in Portsmouth, Virginia, in a middle-class environment. Her father, Malachi Joyner, was a Baptist minister. Her mother, Henrietta Beale Joyner sang in the church choir and is said to have had a wonderful soprano voice This appears to be where young Sissieretta inherited her own naturally beautiful voice It was obvious by the time she was five years old that she had a gift and her family was instrumental in promoting her talent To give her a chance for formal music study the family moved from Virginia to Providence Rhode Island She now could study classical voice at Providence Academy of Music From the Providence Academy Jones ...