January 7, 1991 THE NEW FEDERALIST Page 13

PBS Tribute to Marian Anderson Was No Tribute
by Marianna Wertz
Marian Anderson waged a decades-long struggle to overcome racial barriers
that prevented her rom doing anything but singing Negro spirituals!
The recent Pub!c "r#a$ca%t!ng Sy%te& '(reat Per)#r&ance%' *re%entat!#n,
#%ten%!by a tr!bute t# the great A)r!can+A&er!can %!nger ,ar!an An$er%#n
#n her --th b!rth$ay, .a%, /u!te un)#rtunatey, a rac!%t %a* !n her )ace0 The
91+&!nute Negr# %*!r!tua e2tra3agan4a, c#n$ucte$ by Ja&e% Le3!ne an$
*er)#r&e$ by Je%%ye N#r&an an$ 5atheen "atte, g#r!)!e$ the &!%ery an$
h#rr#r #) bac6 %a3ery an$ !t% c#nc#&!tant &u%!c #) $eath, .h!e c#&*etey
!gn#r!ng the rea %trugge #) ,ar!an An$er%#n, t# u*!)t bac6 A&er!can% t#
true an$ e/ua c!t!4en%h!* !n th!% nat!#n0
,ar!an An$er%#n her%e) #*ene$ the nat!#nay tee3!%e$ br#a$ca%t !n a
ca&e# a**earance0 A)ter a )e. br!e) .#r$% ab#ut the !&*#rtance #) hear!ng
)r#& %#*ran#% N#r&an an$ "atte, c!*% .ere *aye$ #) ,!%% An$er%#n
%!ng!ng Negr# %*!r!tua% !n her .#n$er)u $ee* c#ntrat# 3#!ce0
A 19-- b##6 #n ,ar!an An$er%#n, *ub!%he$ !n the A&er!can W#&en #)
Ach!e3e&ent %er!e% by 7he%ea H#u%e Pub!%her% an$ $!%tr!bute$ by The
Learn!ng 7enter, 78A 9S!3er S*r!ng, ,$0:, g!3e% a 3ery &#3!ng acc#unt #)
,!%% An$er%#n;% $eca$e%+#ng %trugge t# #3erc#&e rac!a barr!er% that
*re3ente$ her )r#& $#!ng anyth!ng but %!ng!ng Negr# %*!r!tua%< Her great+
e%t $rea&=t# %!ng #*era=.a% #ny rea!4e$ a)ter %he .a% >1 year% #$, an$
.a% the re%ut #) .hat .a% 3!rtuay a Sec#n$ A&er!can Re3#ut!#n, )#ught
t# br!ng th!% '3#!ce #) the A&er!can %#u' !nt# greater *ub!c *r#&!nence0
"epublican #uality
A b!t #) ,!%% An$er%#n;% h!%t#ry, rec#unte$ !n the 7he%ea H#u%e b!#gra*hy,
en$% an !&*#rtant !n%!ght !nt# the re*ub!can /ua!ty #) her &!n$0 An$er+
%#n;% )a3#r!te c#&*#%er .a% Fran4 Schubert, .h#%e 'A3e ,ar!a' .a% a
)eature$ *art #) her re*ert#!re0 She #3e$ (er&an lieder, but 6ne. n#
(er&an, an$ thu% !n the beg!nn!ng #) her career, c#u$ #ny earn the yr!c%
%yabe by %yabe0 She there)#re $eter&!ne$ that %he had t# g# t# (er+
&any0 Th!% .a% !n 1931=har$y a *r#*!t!#u% t!&e )#r a %!nge A&er!can
.#&an t# %a! t# (er&any=e%*ec!ay a bac6 .#&an0 "ut %a! %he $!$0
In (er&any, %he arrange$ t# %tu$y .!th ,!chae Rauche!%en, the !n$!3!$ua
*erha*% &#%t re%*#n%!be )#r %a3!ng the *er)#r&ance #) (er&an !e$er )r#&
the ra3age% #) H!ter;% Ne. Age0 She .a% .ar&y rece!3e$ thr#ugh#ut
Eur#*e, !ncu$!ng by c#n$uct#r Artur# T#%can!n!, .h# cae$ An$er%#n;% 'a
3#!ce #ne hear% #nce !n a hun$re$ year%0'
?n her return t# the @0S0 !n 193>, An$er%#n $ec!$e$ t# br!ng .!th her the
F!nn!%h *!an!%t 5#%t! Aehanen, .h#%e acc#&*an!&ent %he ha$ gr#.n t#
#3e, an$ .h#%e 6n#.e$ge #) (er&an !e$er greaty a!$e$ her *er)#r&ance0
E3en An$er%#n;% &#ther #bBecte$ t# th!%, becau%e Aehanen .a% .h!te<
'There ha% ne3er been #ne #) #ur race t# atta!n %uch he!ght%, t# be %# h!ghy
acca!&e$ an$ %# un!3er%ay be#3e$ a% y#ur%e),' her &#ther .r#te, '%# I
*ray that y#u &ay n#t thr#. a ban6et #3er a y#u ha3e $#ne by br!ng!ng
#ne #) an#ther race t# .#r6 .!th y#u0'
An$er%#n $ec!$e$ aga!n%t her &#ther;% .!%he%0 'I 6ne. !n &y heart,' %he
.r#te, 'that the r!ght $ec!%!#n .#u$ be the #ne ta6en #n &u%!ca gr#un$%0'
Brea$ing "acial Barriers
Such $ec!%!#n% character!4e$ her career, an$ .ere !n )act argey re%*#n%!be
)#r her ab!!ty t# brea6 thr#ugh rac!a barr!er% that ha$ %ty&!e$ th#u%an$%
be)#re her0 In 19CC %he .a% !n3!te$ t# %!ng )#r %er3!ce&en, t# ra!%e &#ney
)#r .ar b#n$%0 She .a% a$3!%e$, h#.e3er, t# !&!t her &!!tary c#ncert% t#
'%!&*e &u%!c0' She %ang her ent!re re*ert#!re !n%tea$0 '?ne $!$ n#t ha3e t#
%!ng $#.n t# the%e &en,' %he .r#te0 '?ne c#u$ %!ng the th!ng% #ne %ang
reguary, an$ they %ee&e$ t# be $e!ghte$0'
A )unny %t#ry, reate$ t# th!%, !% rec#unte$ #) ,!%% An$er%#n;% c#ncert !n the
5re&!n !n 193D0 There %he .a% t#$ n#t t# %!ng any %acre$ %#ng%=Negr#
%*!r!tua% #r 'A3e ,ar!a0' @n$er the rue #) Sta!n, re!g!#u% %!ng!ng .a%
banne$0 The au$!ence *ac6e$ the ha0 A% u%ua, !gn#r!ng the #))!c!a ban,
%he %ang her ent!re re*ert#!re0 The au$!ence .ent .!$, $e&an$!ng enc#re
a)ter enc#re, *art!cuary #) the Negr# %*!r!tua% an$ 'A3e ,ar!a0' A% !t ater
turne$ #ut, J#%e*h Sta!n h!&%e) .a% !n atten$ance at the c#ncert, %!tt!ng !n
a curta!ne$+#)) b#2 %# a% n#t t# be %een by the au$!ence0
?ny a *er%#n .!th th!% republican /ua!ty #) %#u c#u$ ha3e %ung t# an
au$!ence #) 7>,111 at the L!nc#n ,e&#r!a #n Ea%ter Sun$ay !n 1939, an$
&#3e$ the ent!re au$!ence t# tear%0 That *r#gra&, t##, !ncu$e$ Schubert;%
'A3e ,ar!a,' a% .e a% the 'Star+S*ange$ "anner0'
I% th!% !)e t# be c#&&e&#rate$ &erey by Negr# %*!r!tua%E "y the!r nature,
Negr# %*!r!tua% are c#ncerne$ .!th the hu&an $e3a%tat!#n that .a% Negr#
%a3ery0 The )act that the 3#!ce% #) Je%%ye N#r&an an$ 5atheen "atte
c#u$ turn any %!&*e )#6 tune !nt# g#r!#u% be cant#, $#e% n#t &a6e the
)#6 tune #ther than a )#6 tune0 A)ter 91 &!nute% #) Negr# %*!r!tua%, the
!%tener !% e!ther b#re$ t# tear% #r %# angry that he !% ren$ere$ 9te&*#rar!y:
!nca*abe #) a**rec!at!ng beauty0
?ne .#u$ th!n6 that %uch great #*era ceebr!t!e% a% 5atheen "atte an$
Je%%ye N#r&an .#u$ th!n6 t.!ce ab#ut h#. the!r #.n career% .ere
aunche$0 It .a% !n )act ,ar!an An$er%#n .h# .a% re%*#n%!be )#r the!r
be!ng #*era ceebr!t!e%0 At age >3, !n 19>>, ,ar!an An$er%#n beca&e the
)!r%t bac6 A&er!can t# %!ng !n an #*era #n a &aB#r A&er!can %tage0 Her r#e
.a% a% @r!ca, an #$ %#rcere%%, !n Aer$!;% The Masked Ball0 Her *er)#r+
&ance an$ her &ere *re%ence br#ught $#.n the h#u%e0 Ne3er aga!n .#u$
A)r!can+A&er!can% be 6e*t #)) the %tage0
The *r#$ucer% #) (reat Per)#r&ance% %h#u$ a%# a%6 the&%e3e% .hy
,ar!an An$er%#n #3e$ Schubert;% 'A3e ,ar!a,' an$ .hy %he %tr#3e %# har$
t# &a%ter the anguage% 9a%# French an$ Ita!an: that .#u$ a#. her t# r!%e
ab#3e the Negr# %*!r!tua0 I% !t n#t !nherent !n the hu&an %*!r!t=be !t !n%!$e
a bac6, .h!te, br#.n, re$, #r ye#. *er%#n=t# %ee6 t# overcome that
F*reBu$!ceGE

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