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WCSU to celebrate Marian Anderson, civil rights and musical icon

Image of Marian Anderson
Marian Anderson

DANBURY, Conn. — Western Connecticut State University will host a community birthday celebration for Marian Anderson, a musical and civil rights icon who lived in Danbury.

Anderson was the first African American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera and later in life she was recognized with several awards, including the Medal of Freedom. She sang at the inaugurations of presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy.

“Marian Anderson represents the best that America had to offer the world, and we can claim her as a Danbury treasure,” said Dr. John Clark, WCSU president. “We are going to celebrate her in order to reflect the rich cultural and historical diversity of Danbury.”

Clark and Brian Vernon, dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts, will lead the celebration in the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall in the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018,  the 121st anniversary of Anderson’s birth.

John Holiday, a countertenor and the winner of the Kennedy Center 2017 Marian Anderson Vocal Award, will perform. The award celebrates excellence in performance by recognizing a young American singer who has achieved initial professional success, and who exhibits promise for a significant career. In order to honor Anderson’s personal and humanitarian achievements, the award encourages service and education.

June Goodman of Danbury, who was a friend of Anderson’s, helped establish the award, which is also supported by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.

Anderson made Danbury her home for nearly 50 years, at a house on Joe’s Hill Road that she shared with her husband, Orpheus H. Fisher, an architect. Anderson’s music studio is now part of the Danbury Museum on Main Street.

For more information about the celebration and to register, go to or call (203) 837-3222.



Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.