Let Freedom Sing

A Navy Yard site will host an Independence Day concert to honor Marian Anderson and the Great American Songbook.

By Joseph Myers

Marian Anderson, the celebrated contralto who hailed from South-of-South/Graduate Hospital,  possessed an immense sense of patriotism, going so far as to donate 98 percent of the proceeds from a 1943 album to our country’s efforts in World War II. To recognize the example she set as a singer and a citizen, the National Marian Anderson Museum is teaming-up with The Chapel of the Four Chaplains to honor her at The Sound of Liberty Concert: A Tribute to the Great American Songbook. The event takes place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 4th at The Chapel, 1201 Constitution Ave.

“She appreciated each opportunity to show her love for the United States and enjoyed using her craft to do so,” chief executive officer Jillian Patricia Pirtle said from the museum, 762 S. Martin St., which joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. “Since this year marks the 80th anniversary of her Lincoln Memorial performance, we wanted something to mark that occasion while also drawing attention to the needs of our site and those of the chapel.”

In the 1940s and ’50s, Anderson sat on the board of the Navy Yard-based Chapel that honors a quartet of religious figures who, in 1943, gave their life jackets to personnel aboard the U.S.A.T. Dorcester after a torpedo had struck it. The reverent haven and the museum have been growing their contemporary affiliation since 2015, so that partnership and Anderson’s ties to the destination made holding the concert within its walls an easy decision.

“We’re so excited to be giving recognition to the Great American Songbook!” Pirtle beamed, noting that five National Marian Anderson vocal scholar artists will join with the Marian Anderson Historical Society’s Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble to perform cherished standards. The festivities will also include a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence and holiday-specific dining options provided by Famous Dave’s. Tickets to the event cost $25. Parking is free.

Given the aforementioned anniversary, Pirtle is particularly keen on making 2019 a year to tout the museum’s namesake, with the “Marian: A Soul in Song” exhibition that will run until January as the primary visual means to explain and explore her significance. Independence Day, therefore, will be the chief auditory way to intensify her standing in the vocal arts community and to give thanks to the sacrifices that our Founding Fathers in establishing our country.

“We’re all looking forward to singing these selections,” Pirtle said, making it a point to single out the World World II era, which, though a turbulent period, gave us what she called “an elegant and romantic time” to compose music and lift spirits. “When we look at why we’re having the concert, it’s immediate to us that along with celebrating our land, we’re looking to support veterans and the museum’s efforts. In no uncertain terms, both need all of the help that we can get.”

Purchase tickets to the event.

For more information, call 215-779-4219, or visit www.marianandersonhistoricalsociety.weebly.com