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1931 Marian Anderson at Swarthmore

Marian Anderson

In 1930, Marian Anderson famously became the first Black woman to sing at Carnegie Hall. That year she also sang on campus in a visit sponsored by the Somerville Literary Society. In April 1931, the celebrated contralto from Philadelphia returned to campus for a concert in Clothier Hall, this time under the auspices of the College’s Cooper Foundation. Her performance of a wide selection of classical and familiar songs prompted her to be called back to the stage for five encores.

According to The Phoenix: "The program opened with a rendition of Dunhill's 'To the Queen of Heaven,' Bononcini's 'Per la gloria d'adoravi,' 'Spirate pur, Spirate' by Donaudy, and 'Alleluja' by Mozart. The next group included Liszt's 'Die drei Zigeuner,' which allowed the singer's range of low, rich, minor tones full expression, also 'In Liebeslust' by Liszt, and 'Vom Monte Pincio' and 'Zur Johannisnach' by Grieg. The audience was taken by surprise by the high trills of the next selections from the opera "La Favorita," by Donizetti. The soprano, almost coloratura, capacities of the contralto, were amazing and the listeners showed their admiration by much applause. … The final group, composed of four negro spirituals and three encores, proved to be the climax of the evening. ‘City Called Heaven,’ ‘Goin to Ride Up in the Chariot,’ ‘Trampin’,’ and ‘Don’t Feel No Ways Tired’ were so well received that Miss Anderson was called back to sing ‘Gospel Train Am Comin’,’ as well as ‘Lindy Lou,’ and lastly ‘Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel.’”