BLACK VOICES
10/07/2013 10:04 am ET | Updated Oct 11, 2013

This Day In History: New York Metropolitan Opera Hires First Black Singer, Marian Anderson

AP

In 1954, the New York Metropolitan Opera hired Marian Anderson making her the first black singer that the famed opera house signed on. Anderson would make her debut performance with the company three months later, on January 7, 1955.

Before the big hire, Anderson made a name for herself performing at venues like Carnegie Hall. However, she did encounter barriers and discrimination because of her race. In 1939, the manager of Washington, D.C.'s Constitution Hall did not allow her to perform. When the public got word that this was due to Anderson's race, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt spoke out against it. The Roosevelt's later invited Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday of that year, in front of a crowd of 75,000.

marian anderson
Marian Anderson, the first African American soloist ever to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House, sings "Ave Maria" on the stage of Carnegie Hall, in what was billed as her farewell performance, April 18, 1965.

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