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Historic Kimmel Center Tribute: Marian Anderson Hall Unveiled

An internally renowned contralto born in 1897, Anderson broke barriers throughout her life and career. In 1939, she gave a historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial after being told she could not sing in Washington, DC’s Constitution Hall because of her race. More than 75,000 people attended and millions listened to the performance on the radio.

In 1955, Anderson became the first black singer to play a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera. Throughout her life, she received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She died in 1993 at the age of 96.

Anderson’s family attended the baptism celebration, along with leaders from the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Kimmel Center, musicians and politicians.

Dad. State lawmakers and members of the Philadelphia City Council announced that Saturday is Marian Anderson Day both in Philadelphia and across the Commonwealth.

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker spoke, praising the historical importance of the day.

“What’s so important, I have to say as a black woman who has lived at the intersection of race and gender my entire life, is that it’s one thing to receive applause for your work, but it’s another thing entirely to your legacy is enshrined in history and recognized for celebration around the world,” said Parker.

Matías Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra, said it was a “deeply moving” day.

“The fact that the great civic leaders of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth are here to embrace this civic gesture in this way speaks volumes,” he said. “Marian Anderson was a great artist, a civil rights icon and a native of Philadelphia. This is the first concert hall, major concert hall to bear her name, Marian Anderson Hall, home of the Philadelphia Orchestra. It means so much about the Civil Rights Movement, which couldn’t have happened without music. It means so much about the importance of art and music in our community.”

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