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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