Classical Music

What concert singer became the first black to give a command performance before royalty?

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield (c. 1819–1876), the nation’s first black concert singer, became the first black singer to give a command performance before royalty when she appeared before Queen Victoria on May 10, 1853. Born in Natchez, Mississippi, she was called “The Black Swan” because of her sweet tones and wide vocal compass. Greenfield toured the United States and Canada extensively during her career and became the best-known black concert artist of her time. In the 1860s, she organized and directed the Black Swan Opera Troupe.


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