The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights
"A voice like yours," celebrated conductor Arturo Toscanini told contralto Marian Anderson, "is heard once in a hundred years." This insightful account of the great African American vocalist considers her life and musical career in the context of the history of civil rights in this country. Drawing on Anderson's own writings and other contemporary accounts, Russell Freedman shows readers a singer pursuing her art despite the social constraints that limited the careers of black performers in the 1920s and 1930s. Though not a crusader or a spokesperson by nature, Marian Anderson came to stand for all black artists-and for all Americans of color-when, with the help of such prominent figures as Eleanor Roosevelt, she gave her landmark 1939 performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which signaled the end of segregation in the arts. Carefully researched, expertly told, and profusely illustrated with contemporary photographs, this Newbery Honor book is a moving account of the life of a talented and determined artist who left her mark on musical and social history. Through her story, one of today's leading authors of nonfiction for young readers illuminates the social and political climate of the day and an important chapter in American history. Notes, bibliography, discography, index.
If the planet Earth could sing
By E. R. Bird "Ramseelbird" - February 21, 2005
Writing a biography of a private person who led a public life is, by definition, difficult. So it only stands to reason that writing a children's biography of a private person who led a public life would be ten times as hard. Children's biographies cannot speculate over the sex life of the subject. They can't delve into shoddy rumors or dredge up conspiracy theories related to the person's sordid background. None of this is to say that Marian Anderson had such sketchy rumors floating about her person, of course. By all accounts she led an exciting life, had a fabulous career, and is regarded as a great American hero. But she was also a private person, which places Russell Freedman in a difficult position. As the author of, "The Voice That Challenged a Nation", Freedman's job is to tell Anderson's story while relying on as many good, strong, clean facts as he can get his hands on. Fortunately, we're talking about the premiere biographical children's author here. Alongside... read more
Richie's Picks: THE VOICE THAT CHALLENGED A NATION
By Richie Partington "Richie's Picks" - October 28, 2004
"This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, 'My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.'
"And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
"Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
"Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
"But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
"Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
"Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring..."
Award winning author Russell Freedman published this biography of African American vocalist Marian Anderson in 2004. I selected it as background to the novel that I'm working on and was not disappointed. Anderson was born in 1897 and grew up in the ethnic neighborhoods of south Philadelphia. Her mother was widowed when she and her two sisters were young; her father was injured in an accident at the Reading Terminal Market where he worked as a front loader. (On a personal note, my German grandmother would take me and my brother and sister to the market once a year to buy delicacies from home. I can still remember the crammed rows of stands that sold sausages, chocolates, breads, and cheeses.) Her church recognized her talents as a contralto when she was only 8 years old and helped raise the money that she needed for lessons. Her instructors included Guiseppe Boghetti who was moved to tears after hearing her sing, "Deep River." In the 1920's Anderson began touring the country... read more