Marian Anderson Historical Society: The Keepers of a Legacy
The Marian Anderson Historical Society is an organization that has been dedicated to promoting the late classical singer, who was considered of the most important opera performers of the 20th century, showcasing her Residence as a Museum and supporting the development and performance of Young Classical and Performing Artist Scholars. The organization was founded by Blanche Burton-Lyles and has existed for the past 15 years. The society itself consists of The Marian Anderson Residence Museum at 762 S. Martin St., where Anderson lived for much of her life. Beyond that, the area around these sites has been named the Marian Anderson Village, which proudly boasts flags around the neighborhood. In addition to the birthplace and residence houses, the village contains Marian Anderson’s church, elementary school and a recreational center dedicated to her. The society is working on creating the Marian Anderson Educational Pavilion, which it says is “designed to educate and produce and audio/visual interactive tour of the Marian Anderson Heritage Village.” Aside from merely promoting Anderson through displaying imagery from her life, the society seeks to spread Anderson’s music throughout the world. The scholars’ program frequently supports young classical and opera singers from around the world. These artists perform regularly at events that the society sponsors, and many have gone on to more prominent positions in places.
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IN THE NEWS
The National MAHS & Residence Museum would Sincerely like to Thank Everyone who attended 'The Unveiling" last evening as The Amonitti Family Trust led by the renowned Dr. George Amonitti who gave and dedicated his Fathers ( George Amonitti II) treasured oil painting 'The Marian 1938' to the National Marian Anderson Residence Museum to be on display to keep forever as we preserve the Musical Legacy of the Great Marian Anderson. We would like to Thank the ABC Networks evening News team for covering the story as well as all of the other media and Press markets that we in attendance. We would like to Thank All of the MAHS Classical Vocal Scholars for your Performance & Attendance as well as the National MAHS Board, Membership and Staff. The Musical Legacy will live on. For More information on how you can support the National Marian Anderson Residence Museum and our Classical Vocal Scholars program please visit our website @ www.marianandersonhistoricalsociety.weebly.com or call our offices @ 215- 779-4219
The National MAHS & Residence Museum is overwhelmed with Joy as our National Marian Anderson Classical Vocal Scholars and Artists Shined during this 106th National NAACP Convention week. How outstanding that the National MAHS Artists closed the convention with last evenings Performances at the Historical Spingarn Medal. Our Artists Extraordinary and we celebrate Miss Jillian Patricia Pirtle, Miss Regina A Smith and Mr. Keith Ivy. As pictured below we Thank the National NAACP President Dr. Cornell Brooks for allowing us to be apart of this American History. The Musical Legacy Lives on and we will continue to Preserve it. For more information on how you can support the National Marian Anderson Residence Museum visit www.marianandersonhistoricalsociety.weebly.com or call our offices @ 215-732-9505 / 215-779-4219
The National Historical Marian Anderson Museum & Society Celebrates the 75th Anniversary of The Great Marian Anderson's Nation Changing Concert at the Lincoln Memorial 1939-2014.
The National Historical Marian Anderson Residence Museum & Society are Honored to have the Marian Anderson 75th Anniversary Gala Featured in the National AfriClassical Magazine courtesy of Mr. Bill Doggett.
Burton-Lyles to laud Marian Anderson A Point Breeze pianist will lead a commemorative tribute to a legendary singer.
By Joseph Myers
Blanche Burton-Lyles gladly inhabits two worlds, one powered by praising the past and the other infused with a focus on the future. The always-occupied octogenarian will unite her universes Saturday by helming the diamond anniversary celebration of fellow South Philadelphian Marian Anderson’s historic Lincoln Memorial performance. In doing so, she will honor the singer not only as an admirer but as a recipient of her encouragement.
“She is such a part of our cultural background that all generations, especially the younger ones, should know of her example,” Burton-Lyles recently said from Anderson’s 2011 National Register of Historic Places-designated abode at 762 S. Martin St. “She remains relevant today for her talent, of course, and for the way she conducted herself and sought to be a positive presence and influence.”
Along with numerous devotees of the lauded South of South songstress, the resident of the 1100 block of South 19th Street will head to The African American Museum of Philadelphia as an esteemer of her output and a dreamer of opportunities for potential-profuse youths. Having acquired the aforementioned home 16 years ago and transformed it into a museum and the base for a thriving historical society, she has certainly succeeded in localizing Anderson’s achievements and works to prolong her mentor’s enthusiasm for finding noteworthy successors.
“There’s so much talent to experience,” the Point Breeze denizen said of having overseen the development of classical and performing artist scholars, including South Philly-situated figures, since the late 1990s. “We are quite often giving them the bridge they need.”
Many aided individuals will join Burton-Lyles for the year-in-the-making extravaganza, during which she will receive the Founders Award for preserving Anderson’s legacy. The three-hour event will feature piano selections from the honoree, but she knows full well the day will belong to her prized confidant.
“She had amazing gifts but seemed separated from them,” Burton-Lyles said of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Grammy Award winner. “By that, I mean she was so human, so unassuming and had not a trace of pride.”
Anderson also possessed immense resolve, as evidenced in ’39 by her professional handling of the Daughters of the American Revolution’s refusal to let her sing before an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. Through President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s intervention, she received redemption on April 9 the same year, Easter Sunday, no less, by treating more than 75,000 people to her stunning vocal skills in an open-air concert. The Lincoln Memorial-situated breakthrough heightened her already robust reputation and has continued to amaze millions.
“And I’m proud to be one of them,” Burton-Lyles said of her musical peer, whose birthplace on the 1800 block of Webster Street she owned for a brief period last decade. “Marian was possessive of such a unique voice and character. It has given me great joy to be an advocate for her and to have the chance to discuss the spirit of communication through music.”
The connoisseur of melodies and warn personalities has made music her life’s calling, with her passionate-for-the-piano matriarch paving the way for her to fraternize with notable figures, including Anderson, for whom, through family connections, she would begin to perform by age 8. Following the immortal interpreter’s Academy of Music concerts, Burton-Lyles, already a commended artist, would delight Anderson and her friends, noting in the former an immense sense of ease.
“She made me feel so at home,” the raconteur said of the icon, who knew her as “Little Blanche” and who exhibited lasting curiosity in her progress as a Curtis Institute of Music and Temple University enrollee. “It was a delight to have her as a supporter.”
Burton-Lyles went on to offer similar guidance over a three-decades-long career with the School District of Philadelphia. Likewise blessed with intense ambition, she became the inaugural African American female pianist to receive a Bachelor of Music degree from Curtis and the first woman bearing such characteristics to perform with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Blending loves for classical and popular works and altruistic interests, she has collected numerous accolades, including the Shirley Chisholm and Mary McLeod Bethune awards and the Philadelphia 76ers Community Service plaudit. Though those have greatly registered with her, her most engrossing endeavor, the promotion of Anderson and the by-products of the singer’s efforts, has proven the most endearing.
“I would never state that people would have forgotten about Marian if not for me,” Burton-Lyles said. “She was someone who, though never seeking praise, truly deserved it. I’m just a conduit for her influence on us all, socially and creatively.”
Being that conductor has come to include touting the Marian Anderson Village, which consists of her worship site, Union Baptist Church, 1910 Fitzwater St., which Burton-Lyles also attends, Edwin Stanton School, 1700 Christian St., from which the singer graduated before matriculating at South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad St., and an eponymous recreation center at 744 S. 17th St. She is striving to link those locations, the museum and Anderson’s birthplace through an educational pavilion, which the society’s website proclaims would produce an audio/visual interactive tour of the environs.
“We’re enthused about anything that can make people enthusiastic about Marian’s work,” Burton-Lyles said of the star, who died in ’93, aged 96, in Oregon. “We have to help people to see how phenomenal she was.”
Though Burton-Lyles played for Anderson, she never had a chance to accompany her for a performance. Come Saturday, though, she knows her friend will be present in spirit to motivate her.
“Her example has never withered from my heart,” she said. “I hope our ceremony can show just how cherished she is.”
Contact Managing Editor Joseph Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 124.
The Marian Anderson Historical Society Official T-Shirt
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