Form and Content
Shirlee P. Newman begins Marian Anderson: Lady from Philadelphia in the post-World War I era. Dubbed “the baby contralto” by her fellow church members and friends, Anderson developed an interest in music at an early age. As a teenager, she had become a valuable asset to her church choir and also sang for the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and other organizations around town. Mr. Robinson, the choirmaster at the Union Baptist Church, had established a small fund to provide her with professional training. When Anderson went to register for music lessons, however, the school rejected her on account of her race. This rejection was her first encounter with discrimination and the first of many obstacles to becoming a successful concert singer that would be thrown in her way.
After Anderson’s rejection at the music school, Robinson and her mother and friends looked for other ways that she might obtain the necessary training. Accord-ing to Newman, an excellent opportunity for young Anderson to gain more exposure and “the right connections” presented itself when the church planned a gala musical event featuring the noted African-American singer Roland Hayes. Robinson decided that Anderson would also appear on the program. As expected, Hayes was favorably impressed with her and visited her home to discuss the possibility of her moving to New York for voice lessons. Anderson’s grandmother, the family matriarch, was firmly opposed to the idea because of Anderson’s tender age, and she was forced to remain at home. She became better known in Philadelphia, however, as she joined the...
(The entire section is 659 words.)