Being A Voice in the Wilderness

I am reading the book "Never Give Up" by Joyce Myers.  Myers is one of my favorite authors because her books are so practical that you are able to make application in every area of your life.  Her book, "Never Give Up" is a book packed with examples of people who pursued their goals relentlessly.  In the book, she talks about her challenges she overcame in life and she also profiles over fifty individuals who prevailed against all odds to hold onto their dreams/vision.  One of the individuals in which she highlights in her book is Marian Anderson.  Since I was little, I've always been fascinated with her story.  This is why...

Marian Anderson was born in 1897, in the "Negro Quarter" of Philadephia.  Her family was extremely poor and when her dad died unexpectedly when she was ten, her mother had to work dead end jobs to support Marian and her sisters.  Marian's amazing singing ability made a way for her to enjoy opportunities otherwise unavailable to her.  She began singing in the choir of the Union Baptist Church, where people quickly noticed the quality, range, and richness of her remarkable voice.  But they also knew Marian's family could not afford formal vocal training for her, so the church sponsored a benefit concert, with ten year old Marian as the featured soloist, to pay for her voice lessons.

Her family couldn't afford piano lessons either, so she taught herself to play.  When she wanted to learn how to play the violin, she took a job scrubbing steps to make money to buy her own instrument.  Obviously, she was fiercely committed to her music.  At one point, she went to apply for admission to a music school in Philadephia and was treated rudely by a young receptionist. When Marian expressed her desire to pursue enrollment, the young woman replied,"We don't take colored."

At the age of nineteen, Marian was introduced to well-known voice teacher Giuseppe Boghetti, who was her teacher, coach, and friend for years.  As her abilities and exposure grew, she began receiving invitations to sing and even to tour.  With her confidence strong and with strong supporters around her, she arranged to sing at New York's  town hall in 1924.  The concert was so poorly attended and so negatively reviewed that she considered abandoning music altogether.

But Marian soon bounced back.  She went on to win a voice competition sponsored by the Philadephia Philharmonic Society and then to triumph over more than three hundred other contestants in the Lewisohn Stadium competition.  She began touring again, and in 1928, she sang solo recital at Carnegie Hall.

In 1939, despite her remarkable accomplishments, Anderson was still denied opportunities because of racism.  That year, the owners of Washington DC's Constitution Hall refused to allow her to sing because of her race.  When Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the president of the United States, heard what happened, she invited Marian to sing at the Lincoln Memorial instead.  Approximately seventy-five thousand people attended that outdoor concert.  That event was significant moment in the advancement of civil right in America and gave many other people who suffered from racism and injustice the courage to pursue their dreams.

Anderson went on to become the first African American to appear as a soloist at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.  She also sang at inauguration ceremonies and received many prestigious awards.    As her outstanding career came to a close, she launched her 1956 farewell tour with a triumph concert at a place that once refused to even allow her inside its doors- Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

Marian Anderson is my hero and a testament that no matter what doors seem closed to you today, keep going and never give up.  Perseverance, determination, and opportunities that seem impossible today will open for you tomorrow.

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