Opinion: Marian Anderson documentary explores her historic significance

Posted on: February 18, 2022

“PBS American Masters ‘The Whole World in Her Hands,’ ” a documentary about mezzo-soprano Marian Anderson that “premiered … Feb. 8 on PBS, … weaves a magical spell with a series of montages of historic photographs with voiceover narration that amplifies the singer’s historic significance,” writes Bill Doggett in Tuesday’s (2/15) San Francisco Classical Voice. “That legendary Easter Sunday, 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial … was a statement to all of America, Black and white, of the power of dignity, resilience, and the determination of a remarkable voice, which would become the anthem and symbol for human rights and civil rights for Black Americans in an increasingly agitated Jim Crow America…. From her poignant voice in the Negro spiritual ‘Crucifixion’ heard over a photograph of the violently beaten body of a Black man killed in the 1919 Chicago Race Riots, to her… legendary 1955 Metropolitan Opera debut as Ulrica in Verdi’s The Masked Ball, to her historic performance of ‘He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands’ at the 1963 March on Washington, [the documentary] invites us into [Anderson’s] living room for a daylong conversation about Marian, the child, the youth, the singer, and consummate global messenger for essential human and civil rights.”