Previous page | She performed for several presidents of the United States, the Prince of Wales and the Kaiser and at places like the Chicago World's Fair and Madison Square Garden. She was barred from performing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Despite this, she had many successes, some of which qualify as breakthroughs. (It was not until 1955 that the color bar was lifted at the Metropolitan Opera with a performance by the contralto Marian Anderson.)
Performing for totally white audiences who viewed her as an anomaly, she was heralded as the premier African-American singer of her time. Despite the inequities and indignities she experienced, she forced whites to see blacks as capable, dignified, and talented. She paved the way for black opera singers such as Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Jessye Norman, and Kathleen Battle.
Symptomatic of black performers in the past, she had to deal with mismanagement and died penniless in 1933.
And So I Sing: African-American Divas of Opera and Concert, Rosalyn M. Story, Warner Bros. Inc, 1994.
Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Darlene Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn (eds.), Indiana University Press, 1994.
Vision and Reality, Willa E. Daughtry, Dorrance Publishing Co, 2002.
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African-Americans and the White House: The 1890s
Afrocentric Voices in Classical Music
American Treasures of Library of Congress' Imagination Gallery: 1899 Lithograph
Classical Music and African Americans
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