WITNESS: Marian Anderson
Concert Conversation with John Birge, Marlissa Hudson and Jon Cranney at 3 pm
Marlissa Hudson, soprano
Greta Oglesby, actor
Andrea Ivy, actor
Jon Cranney, director
Philip Brunelle, conductor
Marian Anderson (1897–1993) was an African American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the 20th century. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution refused permission for her to sing for an integrated audience at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. With the aid of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial instead. A crowd of over 75,000 jammed the Washington Mall and millions more listened to the radio broadcast. That iconic event was only the beginning of her work to break barriers for black artists in the United States. In 1963 she returned to Washington, DC to sing as part of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s March on Washington.
In this year's WITNESS celebration, Jon Cranney will direct Marian Anderson: A Musical Memoir, a semi-staged production featuring the soprano Marlissa Hudson along with actors Greta Oglesby and Andrea Ivy. Set on the eve of her performance at Dr. King’s March on Washington, Marian becomes a powerful role model to a young person by sharing her life story.
The concert also features the VocalEssence Chorus, performing poetry by African American writers set to music for chorus by a wide range of composers.
“As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might.” — Marian Anderson