Sunday Dollar Bills!
Make that twenty dollar bills, y’all. The banknote that Harriet Tubman, a former slave in the American Civil War era, will be fronting. It is a huge milestone that our country is paying homage to an important historical figure who was a catalyst in the fight against slavery and happened to be quite a fierce woman, a Diva, one with characteristics that we honor.
Okay, but Harriet wasn’t a singer. SO the next on the list is none other than the contralto, Marian Anderson, who will be added to the redesigned five dollar bill opposite of President Abraham Lincoln. She sang at the Lincoln Memorial, Lincoln Center, and most notably, the Metropolitan Opera House in 1955. She became the first African American to perform at the Met in her first operatic role as Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. In the years following, she became a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Committee as a “goodwill ambassadress” for the United States Department of State, giving concerts all over the world.
This particular video of her performing “Deep River”, a most beloved spiritual, you can hear the heart-breaking beauty of her unique and rich timbre within her lower range.
A New York Times music critic wrote about Anderson this way: “Those who remember her at her height … can never forget that big resonant voice, with those low notes almost visceral [having to do with basic emotions] in nature, and with that easy, unforced ascent to the top register. A natural voice, a hauntingly colorful one, it was one of the vocal phenomena [rare event] of its time.”
We suggest you hear for yourself, and make your own opinion.
Good night and good luck; in life, love, and prosperity.