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Marian Anderson During The Harlem Renaissance The Centurys Contralto Marian Anderson was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania A variety of sources suggested February 17 1902 as her birth date however Andersons birth certificate showed differently On her birth certificate the date listed was February 27 1897 She was born into a working class family in South Philadelphia Her family had a few obstacles to overcome but managed Her father John worked selling ice and coal at the Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philadelphia Her mother Anna was a former teacher Marian had two younger sisters Alice and Ethel Andersons early schooling was completed at the Stanton Elementary School located at 17th and Christian Streets near her home Her music career began at the age of six by singing in the choir of Philadelphias Union Baptist Church Shortly after the Christmas of 1910 her father passed away It forced her and her mother to work to support the family Even though Marian was now working she continued to sing with the church choir At seventeen Anderson began to take voice lessons with soprano Mary Saunders Patterson Soon after she started Marian sang in many public concerts Local supporters provided money and funds for study with Agnes Reifsnedier and then went on to study with Giuseppe Boghetti At age 23 she entered a competition and won first place over 300 other singers This resulted in an engagement with the New York Philharmonic at Lewisohn Stadium The conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra thought the world of Anderson Toscanini once commented Yours is a voice such as one hears once in a hundred years This was all she needed to establish her reputation Although Anderson was thought of highly by some others brought about controversy In 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution DAR refused Marian the use of Constitutional Hall in Washington DC They focused public attention on racism At that time Eleanor Roosevelt was a member
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