Marian Anderson is considered one of the most important singers of the 20th century. She sang a wide variety of music from spirituals to opera. She was a contralto best known for her extraordinary three-octave vocal range. She first began singing across the US and in Europe in the twenties.
In 1936 she became the first African American singer to perform at the White House when she performed for President Franklin Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She also became the first African American to sing with New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow Anderson to sing at the Constitutional Hall. Mrs. Roosevelt, a member of DAR, resigned because she felt remaining would signal approval of their action. Three years later the Roosevelts invited her to perform on the steps of the Lincoln memorial which was to an audience of 75,000.
Anderson was still singing professionally into the 1960’s. This is when she became involved in civil rights issues and politics. In 1963 She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She also holds a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award among her many honors.