After being banned from performing at Washington DC's Constitutional Hall because of her race, Anderson sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to an enthusiastic audience of 75,000, whites and blacks together. The legendary moment was a milestone in the nation's civil rights movement and launched Marian Anderson to an icon.
But Marian Anderson didn't feel comfortable as an icon she considered herself a singer. She was the first black singer to perform at the White House and in the Metropolitan Opera. Her deep and soulful contralto voice neared a three-octave range. In fact, the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini once said to her "A voice like yours is heard only once in a hundred years."
Allan Keiler, Professor of music at Brandeis University and author of "Marian Anderson: A Singer's Journey"
This program aired on September 6, 2002.