Women’s History Month Spotlight: How the Legend Marian Anderson Changed the world with her voice; Exclusive Interview


Marian Anderson’s voice changed the course of American and World history. 

“I seek to put together music that will appeal to both sorts of listeners. At the same time, it must be music that I believe in. It must be music with which I feel at home; otherwise, I cannot reach others with it.” – Marian Anderson

American contralto Marian Anderson was a powerful force to contend with. Her impact on the world and music is unmatched. 

Ms. Anderson performed a wide range of music, from opera to spirituals performing for Presidents, Kings, Queens, and dignitaries with renowned orchestras in major concert and recital venues throughout the United States and Europe between 1925 and 1965.  She was the first African American to perform on the main stage with the Metropolitan Opera, overcoming racial barriers in Opera for people of color. 

The barrier-breaking Philadelphian challenged segregation when she was barred from performing in Washington by the Daughters of the Revolution. Anderson sang at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Easter in 1939. 24 years before  Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “ I Have A Dream” speech.” The performance made her an icon of the Civil Rights Movement.

“But the only hope for all of us is that we will attempt in good faith to rid ourselves of unknown fears in matters where it is impossible to discover that the fears are often groundless and unreasonable Fear is a disease that eats away at logic and makes man inhuman”– Marian Anderson. 

Jillian Patricia Pirtle is the CEO of the National Marian Anderson Museum and Historical Society.  Ms Pirtle is a professional American Stage and Opera Artist, actress, model, dancer, and personality. She has a great love and passion for the arts.

Licensed Historian with the state of Pennsylvania, Ms. Pirtle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Theater and Operatic Performance, and a Bachelor of Arts in History. She was inducted into the Marian Anderson Society as a Marian Scholar and Classical Vocalist.  

ThisIsRnB had the distinct honor of speaking with Ms.Pirtle, and explored the pioneer who became a global phenomenon, the late Marian Anderson. 

As an African American woman whose contributions influenced civil rights, modern music, and many other areas, Ms. Anderson was a Renaissance woman whose journey and work are to be admired and celebrated.

Responding to a question on how she could sum up Ms. Anderson, Ms. Pirtel said, “She was light, and light illuminates everything.”

In 2020, the Landmark Marian Anderson Museum located in Philadelphia suffered a devastating flood that destroyed historic artifacts, sheet music, historic furniture items, and dress materials.  Ms. Pirtle has been working tirelessly to raise funds to restore the historic landmark museum. She needs our help. Please consider donating to help restore the museum and preserve Marian Anderson’s legacy.

Click the link here https://marianandersonhistoricalsociety.weebly.com/  to learn ways to support.

Watch our exclusive interview below to learn about the significant impact the trailblazer Marian Anderson had on our world.


For a more in-depth look into Mrs. Marian Anderson life and legacy, watch the pbs special below.

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