Let Freedom Sing
“Let Freedom Sing,” tells the story of Marian Anderson, an important figure in the struggle for African-American artists to overcome racial prejudice in the United States. Considered to be one of the great singers of the 20th century, Marian Anderson did not seek to become a symbol of civil rights, yet the times and her country made her so. The performing arts depend first and foremost on talent, and talent is distributed all across the entire demographic landscape. As a result, the performing arts have the potential for greater diversity than almost any other aspect of our culture. Let Freedom Sing is a perfect example of talent meeting opportunity and it is in opportunity where equality is found. Mobile Opera believes that this story powerfully illustrates the commonality of arts in our lives and that giving opportunity to talented individuals results in not only equality but unity.
Marian Anderson was born in 1897, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She possessed a unique talent – a powerful and beautiful contralto voice. Let Freedom Sing follows the course of events that gave opportunity to Marian’s talent. Through this lens we see her rise to international fame, appearing on European stages as a twenty-year-old. Celebrated as an artist in Europe and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Marian Anderson could not stay in fine hotels or eat in restaurants with her fellow cast members because of the color of her skin. The moment that made her a symbol for equality came in 1939, when the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to grant her permission to sing in Constitution Hall, which the DAR owned. The organization’s most famous member, Eleanor Roosevelt, surrendered her membership in the DAR and prevailed upon the US government to offer an even greater platform to Ms. Anderson. She stood before the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday 1939 and sang to a crowd of 75,000 and a radio audience in the millions. That famous concert included “My Country Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Liberty.”
Let Freedom Sing is a modern form of opera; part song cycle, part oratorio, but opera is at its heart. Four singing actors tell the story of Marian Anderson’s life as an artist. It is a story that highlights inequities but ends in hope and triumph.