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Giving Voices to the Voiceless: Black Opera Pioneer Dies

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Black America lost another trailblazer. Anne Wiggins Brown, the African-American soprano who starred as the original Bess in George Gershwin's landmark folk opera, has died at age 96, according to the Associated Press. The Baltimore native began singing as a young child in church and at 16 was the first Black vocalist admitted to New York City's famed Juilliard School of Music. The Metropolitan Opera in New York did not even feature a Black singer until Marian Anderson sang in 1955—decades after Brown began her opera career. A true pioneer in opera, Brown died in Oslo, Norway, where she had lived since 1948 after complaining of racial discrimination in the United States.—BB

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