Marian Anderson, who became one of the most celebrated singers during the 20th century, was born on Feb. 27, 1897, in Philadelphia.
She began singing in church at 6 years old. Impressed by Anderson's dedication to perfecting her talents, her church choir raised money for her to take vocal lessons for two years. Anderson soon won a chance to perform at Lewisohn Stadium in New York, and more opportunities followed.
President Franklin Roosevelt and wife Eleanor invited her to perform at the White House in 1936. In 1939, she faced discrimination from the Daughters of the American Revolution, who did not want her to perform at D.C.'s Constitution Hall. When Eleanor Roosevelt heard of this, she invited Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial.
The singer made history in 1955 as the first African-American to perform as a member of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.
Anderson passed away at the age of 96 in 1993.
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(Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)