Marian Anderson, 1897–1993, American contralto, b. Philadelphia. She was the first African American to be named a permanent member of the Metropolitan Opera Company, as well as the first to perform at the White House. Anderson first sang in Philadelphia church choirs, then studied with Giuseppe Boghetti. She began her concert career in 1924 and achieved her first great successes in Europe. Her rich, wide-ranged voice was superbly suited to opera, lieder, and the spirituals that she included in her concerts and recordings. In 1939, when the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to allow her to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., Eleanor Roosevelt publicly resigned her DAR membership in protest against the racist snub and sponsored Anderson's landmark concert at the Lincoln Memorial. In 1955 Anderson made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera. She was appointed an alternate delegate to the United Nations in 1958 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.
See her autobiography, My Lord, What a Morning (1956); biography by A. Keiler (2000); R. Arsenault, The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America (2009).