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The Voice That Challenged a Nation


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About the Author

Russell Freedman received the Newbery Medal for LINCOLN: A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY. He is also the recipient of three Newbery Honors, the Sibert Medal, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and was selected to give the 2006 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Mr. Freedman lives in New York City.


Newbery medalist Freedman (Lincoln: A Photobiography) succinctly traces the career of renowned contralto Marian Anderson (1897-1993) from her Philadelphia childhood, when she first revealed her extraordinary voice in church choirs. Throughout, the author describes the racial discrimination Anderson frequently encountered as an African-American artist, as well as her role in the struggle for civil rights, a role defined by her dignified yet determined response to racism. The gifted singer felt the sting of discrimination as a teen, when she tried to apply to a music conservatory and was told, "We don't take colored." Later, as she and her accompanist toured America, they were barred from hotels and restaurants and relegated to the Jim Crow cars of trains. Freedman provides thrilling accounts of Anderson's success and soaring reputation in Europe, where she performed for royalty, often singing in the native language of her audiences and eliciting the highest praise from maestro Arturo Toscanini, who told Anderson hers was a voice "heard once in a hundred years." Perhaps most poignant is Freedman's re-creation of Anderson's 1939 performance before 75,000 fans at the Lincoln Memorial, a concert precipitated by the DAR's refusal to allow a black singer to appear at its Constitutional Hall and accomplished largely through the efforts of Eleanor Roosevelt. Copious quotes from Anderson's autobiography, papers and interviews allow her resonant voice-and personal grace-to animate these pages. Also included are abundant photos, newspaper clippings and reproductions of concert programs. An engrossing biography. Ages 9-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Gr 5-9-In the initial chapter, Freedman movingly and dramatically sets the stage for the performer's historic 1939 Easter concert at the Lincoln Memorial. In less than two pages, he captures the huge crowd's eager anticipation, briefly describes the controversy sparked by the Daughters of the American Revolution's refusal to allow Anderson to appear at Constitution Hall, and mentions the significance of the concert. He leaves readers at the moment when "A profound hush settled over the crowd.- she closed her eyes, lifted her head, clasped her hands before her, and began to sing." The author then switches to a chronological account of Anderson's life from her childhood in Philadelphia through her acclaimed U.S. and European concert tours in the 1920s and 1930s. He then gives a fuller account of the famous outdoor concert, which he refers to as a milestone in both musical and civil rights history. Freedman acknowledges that the singer did not set out to be a political activist or a crusader for civil rights. Numerous archival photographs, thorough chapter notes, a selected bibliography of works for both adult and younger readers, and a selected discography of currently available Anderson CDs are included. This inspiring work once again demonstrates Freedman's talent for showing how a person's life is molded by its historical and cultural context. Readers of Pam Munoz Ryan's When Marian Sang (Scholastic, 2002) will appreciate this lengthier account of Anderson's life, as will all readers of biography, U.S. history, and musical history.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

a fully realized portrait of a musical artist and her outstanding, handsome biography. Freedman at his best. KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred reviews Kirkus Reviews, Starred

Freedman provides thrilling accounts...copious quotes...allow her resonant voice--and personal grace--to fill these pages...An engrossing biography. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review Publishers Weekly, Starred This inspiting work once again demonstrates Freedman's talent for showing how a person's life is molded by its historical and cultural context. SLJ School Library Journal, Starred In his signature prose, plain yet eloquent. Freedman tells Anderson's triumphant story . . . Older readers and adults will want this too. BOOKLIST Booklist, ALA Freedman offers the story of a movement encapsulated in the biography of an extraordinary African-American woman. BCCB Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books a masterful biography...The prose is sharp and clean with generous use of quotations...a superb choice. VOYA VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

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