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Celebrating Black History at Carnegie Hall

To recognize the rich contribution of Black artists and thought leaders to our history, Carnegie Hall created Celebrating Black History at Carnegie Hall, a virtual exhibit for Google Arts & Culture’s impressive collection of more than 4,000 items, inviting visitors to explore a range of material covering Black history and culture—from organizations and archives large and small—brought together in more than 80 exhibits by 50 partners. From the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra to digitized historical records of slave rebellions and resistance, Frederick Douglass, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Google’s Black History and Culture provides unprecedented access to visitors throughout the year. 

Celebrating Black History at Carnegie Hall singles out highlights of the rich history of artists and notable figures who have appeared at the Hall throughout our history, incorporating photos, audio, video, and historic materials from Carnegie Hall’s Archives. Originally unveiled for Black History Month, the exhibit provides additional recognition of the vital contributions of Sissieretta JonesMarian AndersonDuke EllingtonElla FitzgeraldBillie Holiday, and Paul Robeson, all of whom have been inducted as Carnegie Hall Icons—individuals intrinsic to the founding and continued existence of the Hall and whose lives or careers are inextricably woven into the fabric of the Hall’s history.

Gino Francesconi, director of the Hall’s Archives and Rose Museum, narrates a video about soprano Sissieretta Jones, the first African American artist to perform at Carnegie Hall in 1892 and legendary contralto Marian Anderson, who had a 70-year association with the Hall that began with her debut in 1920. The exhibit also includes soprano Jessye Norman introducing HONOR! A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy, the Carnegie Hall festival she curated in 2009.

Jessye Norman sings “Two Wings” and introduces the artists and themes of HONOR! A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy, a 2009 festival she curated.

Carnegie Hall became a partner of the Google Cultural Institute in 2015. Through this virtual platform, music lovers everywhere can now sit alongside The Philadelphia Orchestra on Carnegie Hall’s stage in a 360-degree video, take a behind-the-scenes Google Street View tour of the landmark building, and browse a variety of other engaging multimedia exhibits for an insider look into the greatest concert hall in the world.

Photography: Anderson and Ellington courtesy of the Carnegie Hall Rose Archives; Jones courtesy of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Columbia University; Holiday courtesy of William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress.

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