Wednesday, March 12, 2014

When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson by Pam Munoz Ryan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
40 pages

When Marian Sang is the beautiful, inspiring true story of singing icon Marian Anderson and her work that inspired millions around the world and broke crucial racial barriers in the 20th century. Marian loved to sing since she was a little girl and impressed the choir director at Union Baptist Church before she was eight years old. Soon Marian was performing in front of many audiences among the black church community in Philadelphia who were in awe of her brilliant contralto.

Marian wanted to go to music school to hone her singing talent. When she was eighteen years old she went to a music school to fill out an application, but the white girl at the counter told her that they don't take colored people. This was heartbreaking for Marian, but continued to sing and traveled around the U.S. to perform. Many times Marian had to sing twice to separate audiences, one black and one white. Marian faced many prejudices, but she still continued to pursue her passion. Her breakthrough came when she auditioned for famous music teacher Giuseppe Boghetti. Initially he told her that he didn't take new students, but when he heard her sing he decided to work with her. He said he'd only need to work with her two years and then she'd be able to sing anywhere. Marian's community helped her raise money for the lessons and soon she learned to sing songs in different languages, including singing Italian opera scenes with Mr. Boghetti.

Marian wanted to learn more about the languages she sang in her lessons and decided to travel to Europe to broaden her horizons and break free from the limitations of black people in the U.S. She went overseas in 1927 and was invited to perform in numerous countries in Europe including Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France, England and Norway. Marian's voice was greatly praised wherever she went. Marian returned to America as a world-renowned singer. However she had to face the realities of the race problem in her country when she was unable to book a concert at Constitution Hall because of a "white performers only" policy. Marian continued to face rejections for her performances due to the color of her skin until President Franklin approved of Marian's invitation to sing at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday. Marian sang in front of an integrated audience of 75,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial and made history. The audience cheered for her and wanted to her hear sing more after she performed several songs.

Afterwards Marian continued to sing around the world for famous politicians, kings, composers, and musicians. She was a beacon of light for her segregated country. The only dream Marian had not fulfilled was her dream to sing at the Metropolitan Opera. No black person had ever sung there. One day Marian received her invitation. She was nervous, but her voice was strong. Marian opened her mouth to sing on stage and made history once again. Marian's life is a testament to the power of humility and resilience. The transformative ability of her amazing voice to unite people of all colors and backgrounds torn a part by prejudices makes When Marian Sang a profoundly inspirational story.

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