Marian Anderson: A Singer's Journey

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Scribner, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 447 pages
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The only definitive biography of the legendary singer, "arguably the greatest contralto of this century" (The New York Times) and a seminal figure in the American civil rights movement, Marian Anderson is written with the full cooperation of her family and unprecedented access to her life.

Born in Philadelphia in 1897, Marian Anderson revealed her prodigious talent at an early age. While still a child, she was singing for audiences in her hometown. Despite her astonishing musical gift, poverty and racial bigotry presented obstacles to her musical education and career. With the help of friends and fellowships to study abroad, first in London and then Berlin, she achieved success throughout Europe, eventually attracting the attention of the famous American impresario, Sol Hurok. Nearly forty years old, she returned to the United States as a concert artist already famous overseas. In only a few seasons under Hurok's management, she became as famous in the United States as in Europe.

In 1939, when the Daughters of the American Revolution denied Anderson the use of Constitution Hall on racial grounds, Eleanor Roosevelt's highly publicized resignation from the D.A.R. catapulted Anderson into national prominence as a symbol of the struggle for racial equality. The incident led to Anderson's historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial before a vast throng of 75,000 -- a defining moment in American history. On January 7, 1955, Anderson made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, the first black singer to appear on its stage. Among her many honors, she received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award, the National Arts Medal, the Congressional Medal of Freedom, and nearly thirty honorarydoctorates. On the centenary of her birth, The New York Times declared that "Miss Anderson's place as the high priestess of American musicians, whatever their color, is not to be denied."

As the culmination of his lifelong fascination with Marian Anderson, Allan Keiler has superbly documented the life of this guarded public figure -- who is still revered today. He has enhanced the history of both American music and the civil rights movement by illuminating the life of one of the century's greatest artists.

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MARIAN ANDERSON: A Singer's Journey

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A comprehensive biography of the great coloratura whose role as a symbol of early civil rights efforts almost overshadowed her triumphs as a singer. Author Keiler (Music/Brandeis Univ.) has ... Read full review

Marian Anderson: a singer's journey

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Here at last is a significant book about the life and career of Marian Anderson. Born in Philadelphia in 1897, Anderson, like so many African American singers, got her start in a Baptist church choir ... Read full review


Childhood in South Philadelphia 18971915
The Struggle for Education 19151921
Touring with Billy King 19211928

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About the author (2000)

Allan Keiler received a Ph.D. in linguistics from Harvard University and did his graduate work in music at the University of Chicago. He taught at universities in the United States and Europe, including SUNY Stonybrook, Yale, Princeton, and Grenoble. Currently professor of music at Brandeis University, he is known particularly for his scholarship in music theory. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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