Graves joined DC's Sweet Honey in the Rock, Washington National Opera, and the Chicago Children's Choir at a Marian Anderson Tribute Concert Easter Sunday April 12, honoring the civil rights legacy of Anderson and Lincoln.
The renowned contralto Anderson performed at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter 1939 after the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) had refused to allow the African-American singer to appear at their Constitution Hall.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest, writing “I am in complete disagreement with the attitude taken in refusing Constitution Hall to a great artist.” She wrote a milder version in her “My Day” newspaper column.
Denyce Graves to sing at Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday
Marian Anderson sang triumphantly at the Lincoln Memorial before more than 75,000 people (see photo below, by unidentified photographer). "It was more than a concert for me," Anderson said. "It seemed that everyone present was a living witness to the ideals of freedom for which President Lincoln died."
Anderson noted also that she had not agreed to the Lincoln Memorial appearance “easily or quickly…I had become, whether I like it or not, a symbol, representing my people.”
To listen to a recording of the Anderson concert, click here.
Mezzo-soprano Graves performed the same program that Anderson sang that Easter day, which fell on April 9, 1939.
Sweet Honey, the Grammy-winning female a cappella group, sang at the White House last February for African American History Month. They performed onstage with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in "Go in Grace" at Kennedy Center last March, and also at the work's premiere in New York last December, opening the AAADT's 50th anniversary season.
A new opera, "Let Freedom Sing: The Story of Marian Anderson", was performed free on March 22 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street, NE in Washington's Historic H Street Corridor. The Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS) commissioned the young people's opera by Bruce Adolphe and Carolivia Herron. WPAS and Washington National Opera are co-producing and co-presenting "Let Freedom Sing".
Let freedom ring, and sing.
You might also enjoy these: