Mary’s voice would often be described as angelic. By the time she was six, her church choir knew she had an amazing gift, and nicknamed her Baby Contralto. Though her father worked hard, they barely managed to survive. That did not prevent him from buying Mary a second-hand piano. Unfortunately, there was no money left for piano lessons and the young prodigy had to learn to play on her own.
Her father died when she was just twelve and left the family penniless. It was then that her church choir pooled what little they had and managed to collect $500 to pay a gifted vocal teacher to work with the gifted child. The choir’s commitment to Marian Anderson quickly paid off for her. She won a New York Philharmonic singing competition. Celebrated Italian conductor, Auturo Toscanini described her singing saying, “A voice like hers comes along only once in a century.”
In 1939, she performed at the Lincoln Memorial. More than 75,000 gathered to hear her sing, and millions more listened by radio. One of the millions listening that day was a ten-year-old from Atlanta. He would later say the concert inspired his dream to change America - 24 years later, Dr. Martin Luther King stood on the same steps Marian had sang from and gave his powerful, “I Have a Dream” speech.
Marian would go on to win the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Congressional Gold Metal and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. However, according to The One Year Book of Amazing Stories, by Robert Peterson, she was most proud of the Lincoln Memorial concert and the way it inspired “a ten-year-old boy to change the world.” Few of us have Marian’s ability, but everyone can make a difference.
The Apostle Paul put it this way, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NLT) Simply put, honor God by doing your best with what you have been given. Marian’s church choir did that when they pooled their resources to provide a vocal coach for their beloved Baby Contralto. Marian did that when she sang her heart out at the Lincoln Memorial. Martin Luther King did that when he inspired a nation with his dream. You and I cannot know if God will use us to change the world, but each of us is responsible to do our best.