It is most appropriate, on Martina Arroyo's birthday (Feb.2), to begin to celebrate Black History Month, and also to relate some of my past experiences with Afro-American artists.
          Sadly, not until Marian Anderson's 1955 Met debut as Ulrica (which was one of my most thrilling experiences, as that curtain rose and the audience cheered), Afro-American artists did not sing at the Met. I was able to hear Lawrence Winters, Adele Addison, and Camilla Williams at City Opera in the early 1950's, but imagine what other artists were lost to the Met earlier.
           Owing to the Marian Anderson breakthrough, Met audiences (myself included) were pleased to have heard such artists as Leontyne Price, Reri Grist, George Shirley, Gloria Davy, Mattiwilda Dobbs, Robert McFerrin, Leona Mitchell, Grace Bumbry, Simon Estes, Jessye Norman, and my all-time love, Shirley Verrett, etc.
             The unfortunate element of course, is that race prejudice denied many of the artists before Anderson an opportunity to be heard in the great Met, but at least Mr. Bing made the breakthrough, however late. We must be thankful at least for the precedent set by Mme.Anderson, and we owe much to her historic debut.
                                                                     Charlie
              

Category:general -- posted at: 10:44am EDT


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