having life or vigor or spirit
People arrived singly and in pairs and in large
a large gathering of people
Uniformed Boy Scouts moved through the festive holiday
throng handing out programs.
regard something as probable or likely
Anticipating a huge turnout, the National Park Service had enlisted the help of some five hundred Washington police officers.
of or related to genetically distinguished groups of people
They had come on this chilly Easter Sunday to hear one of the great voices of the time and to demonstrate their support for
racial justice in the nation’s capital.
a dispute where there is strong disagreement
News of the DAR’s ban had caused an angry
controversy and set the stage for a historic event in the struggle for civil rights.
capable of being wounded or hurt
For that moment, Marian Anderson seemed
vulnerable and alone.
the distinctive property of a complex sound
While her voice had the rich, dark
timbre of contralto, the lowest female voice, she had no trouble with the ringing tones of soprano, the highest.
a musical composition for one voice or instrument
Soon she was singing well enough to be entrusted with
solos when the junior choir performed at the church’s main Sunday service.
vigorous and animated
She grew up in a poor but
vibrant neighborhood, home to Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants and to African American families that had come up from the rural South to seek job opportunities in the city.
a shelter from danger or hardship
Blacks worshiped in segregated churches, which provided
sanctuary against the pain of discrimination.
having or showing arrogant superiority
Marian remembered her grandmother Isabella as an imposing woman, tall and
imperious, who ruled her family with an iron hand.
Marian’s grandfather referred to himself as a Black Jew and practiced his adopted religion in a crowded household of
a document attesting to the truth of certain stated facts
Years earlier, before her marriage, Anna had taught school in Lynchburg, Virginia, but she lacked the
credentials needed to teach in Philadelphia.
give encouragement to
“Soon I was
emboldened to establish a minimum of five dollars for an appearance,” she recalled.
the act of spending money for goods or services
In those days, I was not dressed so grandly that I needed taxis to deliver me to the places where I sang. A trolley car sufficed, and the fare was my only
the adult male singing voice above baritone
One of her admirers was Roland Hayes, a young black
tenor who appeared often at the Union Baptist Church.
a schoolhouse with special facilities for fine arts
At the time, most of Philadelphia’s music
conservatories accepted white students only.
an elaborate song for solo voice
But if she wanted to become a concert artist, she would be expected to perform a variety of songs in their native tongue, including
arias from Italian operas, French melodies, and German ballads, or lieder-poems set to music.
excessively aware of your appearance or behavior
Her classmates would remember her as a shy and often
self-conscious young woman who kept to herself and concentrated on her musical studies.
showing signs of wear and tear
Riding in the
shabby Jim Crow car became part of Marian and Billy’s travel routine.
somewhat ill or prone to illness
You must understand the how and why of what you are doing. If you do, you can give an acceptable performance even when you are
expressing praise and admiration
The next morning the newspaper reviews were not
not distracted by anything unrelated to the goal
"[Miss Anderson] should devote more time to
earnest, consistent study and less to the concert stage,” said one critic.
discuss again; go back over
But gradually her depression lifted, and as she kept
rehashing the Town Hall recital in her mind, she came to realize that much of the criticism was justified.
made scared or fearful as by threats
No matter what happened, he told her, she must not be
intimidated by the clicker.
a note that alternates with another note a semitone above it
She must continue singing until she reached the difficult
trill at the end of the aria, in order to show off the range and power of her voice.
in fear or dread of possible evil or harm
She took her place on the stage, closed her eyes, and began to sing, “with one part of my mind waiting
apprehensively for the voice of doom upstairs.”
Marian wore a new powder blue dress, “very smart without being
a complete failure or collapse
Perhaps deep down there was the painful memory of the Town Hall
much greater in number or influence
And when Marian performed before
predominantly white audiences in the big cities of the Northeast and Midwest, reviewers who praised her voice often commented that she did not handle foreign languages well.
a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitude
She realized that until she understood the subtle
nuances of foreign words, and could pronounce them like a native, she could not hope to sing effectively in other languages.
perform without preparation
Once, during a performance when she was singing in German, she forgot some words and
improvised others instead.
consisting of or related to language
That way, she felt, she could acquire the
linguistic skills that would allow her to sing convincingly in languages other than English.
standing above others in character or attainment
And in any case, as she well knew, an American concert singer who did not study and perform successfully abroad couldn’t hope to have a
distinguished career at home.
a force that makes something happen
“My career needed a fresh
impetus, and perhaps a European stamp would help.”