Searching BAM for the spirit of Marian Anderson

Howard Gilman Opera House in 1978, photo by Dinanda H. Nooney

BKPS met to investigate whether BAM could home the spirit of Marian Anderson.

Marian Anderson Stands In Front the Lincoln Memorial.
Marian Anderson pictured in-front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Born to blue-collar Philadelphians, Marian Anderson expressed talent in singing from a young age.

She began studying music independently in her teens and early twenties, after being turned away from the Philadelphia Music Academy. At the time, the institution upheld a whites-only policy.

Far from being deterred by racial prejudice and economic disadvantage, Marian gained notoriety as an opera singer and went on to tour Europe extensively in the 1920s.

Unlike their American counterparts, European audiences were seemingly more accepting of a black contralto, and Marian was beloved by her fans.

Back on American soil, Marian faced severe opposition from the white elite. She performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1938, but a year later, the tides turned.

During a historic turning point in the civil rights movement, Anderson was denied the opportunity to perform on Washington, DC’s prestigious Constitution Hall stage. The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) who owned the hall and oversaw its performances were unwilling to offer non-segregated seating.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who served on the board, was unnerved by the blatant racism of her fellow Daughters and chose to resign out of respect for Marian. She went a step further and organized a special Easter Sunday performance for Marian at the Lincoln Memorial.

To a crowd of 75,000, Marian, raised a devout Baptist, performed a series of traditional hymns in her operatic style said to be full of “intrinsic beauty.”  Later, she expressed gratitude to her audience, stating, “I am just so overwhelmed today that I cannot express myself properly. You don’t know what you have done for me.”

While stories like Ms. Anderson’s may sound antiquated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

If perhaps she, like us, was disturbed by the racial divisions in modern-day America, and hoped to offer some positivity to the brokenhearted and the downcast. This was no small feat. I understood the gravity of what I was attempting.

With nothing but respect for the Anderson family, I decided to invite a small group of members to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where Marian performed over a dozen times in the late 1930s. 

If she was, in fact, still lingering around Brooklyn, this seemed the most likely place to investigate.

Female psychics, and detectives set out to explore BAM for Marian Anderson’s spirit.

It was this knowledge that inspired my latest venture into the paranormal side of Brooklyn. I wondered if perhaps Marian Anderson’s spirit was still within reach.

The coven consisted of psychic-empath Cindy and psychic-medium Elaine, investigator Tina, and student-journalist Comice.

"Microphone" response during paranormal investigation aligns with Comice's desire to be heard.
“Microphone” EVP response to Comice’s presence. (Photo credit: Anthony Long)

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Stoned Seance: A Puff of the Paranormal

Stoned Seance: A Puff of the Paranormal

Second only to eternal life, communication with the dead has been one of mankind’s most aggressively pursued goals. Trailing not far behind; marijuana legalization.

Countless cultures and secret societies have devised methods to communicate with the dead.

The Brooklyn Paranormal Society found their stash, trimmed the trash, and tested the hash in order to bring you this special event.
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A Haunting in St. Marks Church in-the-Bowery

BKPS Investigates St. Marks Church in-the-Bowery.

Proof of paranormal activity found at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery

Peter Stuyvesant Stained Glass inside St. Mark's Church in the Bowery (Photo by Anthony Long)
Peter Stuyvesant Stained Glass inside St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery (Photo by Anthony Long)

St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery is the second-oldest church in NYC. It’s also alleged to be haunted by the spirit of New Amsterdam governor (and notorious asshole) Peter Stuyvesant. Originally built-in 1799, this church regularly tops most haunted lists.

Rumors of Stuyvesant haunting the church property have persisted, even flourished for decades. Parishioners, vacationers and probably pensioners have reported strange sightings, and heard phantom bells ringing.

Determined to capture evidence, and give Peter a piece of my mind – I reached out to secure permission.  After a brief exchange, I set the date for the investigation and sent out an event bulletin to our Detectives.

Typically investigations happen at night, but with national landmarks, you have to take what you can get.  Nevertheless, my crack team investigators managed to make the 9 am call time.

Intent on mixing spirits with spirits, a few of us even smuggled in flasks. I don’t quite recall what I packed in the thermos that day, so it must’ve been tequila.

Thermos or Flask? I let the law decide. (Photo by Anthony Long)
Thermos or Flask? I let the law decide. (Photo by Anthony Long)

Amongst the coven for our investigation was journalist Brady Dale who reported on the historic hunt with Observer, psychic-empath Stacy Cecil, and others.

I could discuss the investigation in great detail if it weren’t for the “Sangria-soaked brunch”, as Brady recalled. Almost three years later, the details of some of these earlier investigations slip me.

Sulfates-aside, one event I do remember quite vividly, is the push.

Bradys’ report presents multiple occurrences of paranormal activity, including a member of BKPS seemingly being pushed by an invisible entity. Experts of the Brooklyn Paranormal Society agree that although an attack by a negative spirit is possible, it’s not typical in any way.

Brady recalls “I listened as the medium, who had started us off with a simple séance”. The medium went on to inform Kelsey she had “some sort of spirit that seemed to be following her around, protecting her.”

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Spirits in the Studio

Spirits in the Studio: BKPS held a paranormal investigation at Douglass Recording, in Gowanus.

Housed in an old garage space in the Gowanus neighborhood, Douglass Recording opened after a half-decade of planning and development. Since opening, the studio has attracted stars such as Vanessa Carlton and Grace Mitchell.

Acting on a tip that indicated the studio was hosting a spiritual entity, BKPS reached out for comment. Chris Gilroy producer & house engineer at Douglass Recording stated “Ghosts can be felt in our walls…”.

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