Marian Anderson was groundbreaking in her career as a performing artist and humanitarian, and the National Marian Anderson Museum has a new exhibition called Marian's Home for the Holidays that revisits some of the singer's favorite Yuletide traditions.
Anderson was born in Philadelphia in 1897 and broke through racial barriers to become one of the most celebrated singers of the 20th century.
"There has never been another voice to match hers, and I don't believe there ever will be," says Wesley Broadnax, Music Director of the National Marian Anderson Museum.
The museum's Chief Operating Officer, Jillian Patricia Pirtle adds, "She was embraced as the people's princess and a great Philadelphia success story."
After her death in 1993, her Philadelphia home, near 19th and Fitzwater Streets, was transformed into a museum. For the holiday exhibition, each room has a theme.
"Music room number one is 'Home for the Holidays,' and that details Marian's birth," explains Pirtle. who adds that Music Room 2 shows Anderson in New York for the holidays, "and experiences Marian being one of the first African Americans on primetime television during the holiday season."
Anderson's 'Christmas in Europe' room is adorned with cream gowns, including one she wore during her performance at the Globe Theater in Paris, "which she named the Eva," says Pirtle, "and it's stunning, and it's this pearl ivory beautiful gown."
The treasure room highlights Anderson's friendship with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and includes photos from her historical Lincoln Memorial performance.
"The first open outdoor concert of its time in the United States, in 1939, featuring Marian Anderson to a crowd of 75,000 people," says Pirtle. "Before Woodstock, before Jay-Z's Made in America, Marian gave it to you."
On December 23rd, the museum is hosting a concert, 'Carols in the City: A Christmas Spectacular,' at the Philadelphia Ethical Society on Rittenhouse Square.
"Marian holds a candle that lights the greatest part of our lives for hope, humanity, joy, peace, goodwill and mirth," says Pirtle, "and you'll get it all here at the Marian Anderson Museum."
Marian's Home for the Holidays is on display at the Marian Anderson Museum through New Year's Day.
National Marian Anderson Museum & Historical Society
762 S Martin St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19146
Marian Anderson Historical Society | Facebook
Carols in the City: A Christmas Spectacular
4-8 p.m., Dec. 23rd
Philadelphia Ethical Society
1906 Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA 19103