Marian Anderson’s love letters to be performed at the Penn Museum ahead of Valentine’s Day
The performance will take place on Feb. 13, 2022.
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One of the most prominent Black opera singers of the 20th century and staunch civil rights leader, Marian Anderson’s contralto voice could sway an audience and bring them to tears in minutes.
The Penn Museum will partner with the National Marian Anderson Museum to honor Anderson’s work by conducting a performance surrounding Anderson’s love letters.
Tickets ranging from $30 and $50 are now available.
The concert called “The Letters,” will be performed inside of the Harrison auditorium at Penn Museum on Sunday, Feb. 13, at 4 p.m. The performance will be led by Jillian Patricia Pirtle, CEO of the Marian Anderson Museum and actor Brian Anthony Wilson, who is known for his work on The Wire.
Many of the love letters were written by Anderson’s architect husband, Orpheus “King” Fisher. They were together for 43 years until Fisher’s death in 1986.
“Little is known in the public eye about Marian Anderson’s decades-long romance with her beloved husband, Orpheus ‘King’ Fisher,” Pirtle explained in a press release. “We are delighted that we can continue to share this aspect of Marian Anderson’s life and story with this beautiful and dramatic presentation of their rare and sacred love letters.”
The Penn Museum has been honoring the late opera singer with an assortment of events to celebrate her many accomplishments throughout Black History Month.
On Feb. 7, the museum’s virtual book club, Between the Lines, read Anderson’s personal memoirs including, My Lord, What a Morning: An Autobiography, which was published in 1956.
The Penn Museum is also showcasing Anderson’s famous Merlot ball gown for those who are interested in seeing a piece of history. The artifact is part of The Stories We Wear exhibition at the museum. The ball gown will be at the museum all through the Spring until June 12, 2022.
The exhibit is showcasing 2,500 years of style and more than 250 artifacts, such as jewelry and notable outfits.
The gown was created by Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes — one of the first Black fashion designers who dressed many African-American celebrities like Ella Fitzgerald and Josephine Baker in the 20th century.
Anderson was born and raised in South Philadelphia and was a devout singer in her church, Union Baptist Church choir by the age of six.
Anderson attended William Penn High School and later on South Philadelphia High School. She applied to attend Philadelphia Music Academy but was rejected because of her skin color.
However, that did not stop Anderson from attaining a successful career in opera, and was able to tour Europe, North, and South America.
On Jan. 7, 1955, she became the first African-American singer to perform as a member of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
Although Anderson passed away in 1993, her voice and civil leadership continues to inspire others all around the world to believe in themselves despite prejudices.