Marian Anderson Essay - Critical Essays


Newman’s Marian Anderson is a very readable and attractively arranged biogra-phy of an African-American concert singer whose name was once a household word in the African-American community. The author has included photographs of some of the most memorable events in the artist’s life. This work should appeal to young readers of all races for several reasons.

First, the author is examining the making of an artist. Young Anderson encountered many problems, such as finding the resources to finance voice lessons. Newman recounts the efforts of church members, accomplished singers, and family members to assist the young singer. The young reader also has an opportunity to see a particular problem facing young women in the early twentieth century, as family ties and supervision prevented their leaving home to pursue careers.

Anderson, as a young artist, also encountered the problem of appearing prematurely at the town hall in a major concert, as she did not have enough experience and training at the time of her performance. It appears that this failure, however, was in no way based on her race. For young African-American readers in particular, Anderson’s experience at the town hall suggests that a successful artist must know how to differentiate between honest failures or weaknesses and racism. Apparently, Anderson knew the difference.

Newman’s biography of Anderson is also important reading for young people because the author includes several lessons in the history of race relations in the United States. Anderson encountered devastating racism in Philadelphia when she...

(The entire section is 662 words.)