Women in the Performing Arts

Marian Anderson

37-cent Marian Anderson stamp
The Marian Anderson stamp was issued January 27, 2005.

Another famous opera singer from the 1930’s is Marian Anderson (1897-1993). However, unlike Rosa Ponselle and Lily Pons, Anderson had a rough start to her career due to the discrimination and racism of her lifetime. Marian Anderson received particularly strong discrimination in 1939 when the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) would not allow her to sing at the DAR Constitution Hall because she was an African American. In response to this discrimination, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt set up a concert for Anderson on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and also resigned from her position in the DAR. Anderson’s concert on the Lincoln Memorial not only launched her personal career, but also remains as a landmark within the history of civil rights in America. After her concert, Anderson went on to become the first African American singer in the Metropolitan Opera and had a very successful career as an opera singer. In addition to her singing career, Anderson also became a U.S delegate to the United Nations, and in 1963 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The music community rewarded Anderson for her contributions to opera music by awarding her the Kennedy Center Award for lifetime achievements in the arts.