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The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights Hardcover – May 25, 2004


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1180L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books; 2nd Print edition (May 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618159762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618159765
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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 Muñoz 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

(Starred Review) "A fully realized portrait of a musical artist and her times...an outstanding, handsome biography. Freedman at his best." -- Kirkus Reviews

(Starred Review) "Freedman provides thrilling accounts...copious quotes...allow her resonant voice--and personal grace--to fill these pages...An engrossing biography." -- Publishers Weekly

"In his signature prose, plain yet eloquent. Freedman tells Anderson's triumphant story . . . Older readers and adults will want this too." -- Booklist

"Freedman offers the story of a movement encapsulated in the biography of an extraordinary African-American woman." -- 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

More About the Author

Russell Freedman received the Newbery Medal for LINCOLN: A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY. He is also the recipient of three Newbery Honors, a National Humanities Medal, the Sibert Medal, the Orbis Pictus Award, 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 and travels widely to research his books.

Customer Reviews

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It is a wonderful exemplar of high quality writing for students and equally interesting for any adult.
joanna Cortright
"This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, 'My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Richie Partington
Russel Freedman uses her life story to inspire and demonstrate that Ms. Anderson's life had truly had a voice.
mjterrazas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Writing a biography of a private person who led a public life is, by definition, difficult. So it only stands to reason that writing a children's biography of a private person who led a public life would be ten times as hard. Children's biographies cannot speculate over the sex life of the subject. They can't delve into shoddy rumors or dredge up conspiracy theories related to the person's sordid background. None of this is to say that Marian Anderson had such sketchy rumors floating about her person, of course. By all accounts she led an exciting life, had a fabulous career, and is regarded as a great American hero. But she was also a private person, which places Russell Freedman in a difficult position. As the author of, "The Voice That Challenged a Nation", Freedman's job is to tell Anderson's story while relying on as many good, strong, clean facts as he can get his hands on. Fortunately, we're talking about the premiere biographical children's author here. Alongside fellow genius James Giblin, Freedman knows exactly how to present a life this interesting and detailed. The book will not charm every child assigned it in school. But if you've a kid who's open-minded and able to get into Marian's struggle, this is an excellent resource. Even if, prior to this book, they couldn't tell Marian Anderson from Ella Fitzgerald.

The book opens with what is inarguably Anderson's greatest moment in the public eye. She stands on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a crowd of 75,000 people below her, waiting to hear her sing. The date is April 9, 1939, and Anderson has been refused the chance to perform at Constitution Hall. Anderson is black and the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) is inherently racist.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Richie Partington VINE VOICE on October 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, 'My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.'

"And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

"Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

"Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

"But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

"Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

"Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring..."

--Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963

Dr. King must surely have had a thought or two of Marian Anderson as he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on that historic afternoon and delivered those words.

Many of us know Marian's basic story:

Marian Anderson was a helluva singer.

Despite being celebrated in Europe as the voice of a century, and despite having the strong support of the President's wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marian Anderson was denied the opportunity to perform in Constitution Hall in Washington, DC because it was owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution, and those ladies didn't allow no black folks to be singing in their hall. That refusal led to Marian performing instead from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of 75,000 people on the Mall and a nationwide radio audience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carol Baldwin on December 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Award winning author Russell Freedman published this biography of African American vocalist Marian Anderson in 2004. I selected it as background to the novel that I'm working on and was not disappointed.
Anderson was born in 1897 and grew up in the ethnic neighborhoods of south Philadelphia. Her mother was widowed when she and her two sisters were young; her father was injured in an accident at the Reading Terminal Market where he worked as a front loader. (On a personal note, my German grandmother would take me and my brother and sister to the market once a year to buy delicacies from home. I can still remember the crammed rows of stands that sold sausages, chocolates, breads, and cheeses.) Her church recognized her talents as a contralto when she was only 8 years old and helped raise the money that she needed for lessons. Her instructors included Guiseppe Boghetti who was moved to tears after hearing her sing, "Deep River."
In the 1920's Anderson began touring the country singing at black churches and colleges. She received a boost in her career when she beat 300 rivals and won the prestigious the Lewisohn Stadium competition in 1925. But her performances in the United States were mostly to fellow African Americans; and she knew that her career would never advance unless she had a wider audience. She decided to go to Europe to study Italian and German so that she could be better equipped to sing operas. During the 1930's Anderson was enthusiastically received by heads of state and famous composers in Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, and Russia. Arturo Toscanini, a very well-known conductor, heard her sing and said, "Yours is a voice such as one hears once in a hundred years."
But when Anderson returned home racism and prejudice still haunted her.
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