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BWW Exclusive: Renée Elise Goldsberry Narrates Marian Anderson Documentary VOICE OF FREEDOM

VOICE OF FREEDOM premieres tonight, Monday, February 15, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings).

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE presents Voice of Freedom, a new documentary about singer Marian Anderson, whose talent broke down barriers around the world. Hailed as a voice that "comes around once in 100 years" and widely celebrated by both white and Black audiences at home, her fame wasn't enough to insulate her from the indignities and trauma of racism and segregation. On Easter Sunday, 1939, she stepped up to a microphone in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Inscribed on the walls of the monument behind her were the words "all men are created equal."

Barred from performing in Constitution Hall because of her race, Anderson would sing for the American people in the open air. Narrated by Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton), Voice of Freedom interweaves Anderson's rich life story with this landmark moment in history, exploring fundamental questions about talent, race, fame, democracy and the American soul.

Watch the inspiring clip from "Voice of Freedom," featuring Renée Elise Goldsberry's voice talents, below!

Produced by Rob Rapley and executive produced by Cameo George, Voice of Freedom premieres Monday, February 15, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video App.

Goldsberry won a Tony Award for her role of Angelica Schuyler in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton. Her other Broadway credits include work in Good People, The Color Purple, Rent, and The Lion King. On TV, she's known for roles on "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist," "Altered Carbon," "Fast & Furious Spy Racers," "The Good Wife," "The Following," "Law & Order: SVU," "Masters of Sex," "Younger," and "OLTL."

"Marian Anderson was an artist first and foremost. She did not seek to become an icon of the civil rights movement," said Cameo George, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE executive producer. "But when circumstances thrust themselves upon her, she did not waver, using her voice as a powerful force to transcend geographical, political and racial boundaries."

Born in South Philadelphia in 1897, Marian Anderson's life was shaped by two circumstances of her birth: her race and her extraordinary voice. Although she rose to the highest levels of the music world, racism impacted every aspect of her life, starting with a humiliating rejection from the Philadelphia Musical Academy when she was a teenager. By the early 1920s Anderson had achieved a certain level of success but was restricted in where she could perform, for whom she could perform and where she could study.

Aware of the success enjoyed by other African-American performers abroad, Anderson traveled to Europe in 1927. In London and Berlin, she found freedom and possibility and pursued the education she had been denied at home. She became a sensation in Scandinavia and conquered Paris. But by 1935, the rise of the Nazi party began closing doors; Anderson was effectively barred from performing in Germany for being "insufficiently Aryan."

"Marian Anderson is willing to show up, and she must show up, to indicate that she is not going to accept the terms of social inequality, of artistic inequality," said scholar Kira Thurman. "I think that says a lot about who she was - her insistence on demonstrating her dignity in the midst of such harsh racial oppression and violence."

Marian Anderson died on April 8, 1993.



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