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Sat, 03.10.1866

Amanda Aldridge, Opera Singer and Opera Teacher born

Amanda Aldridge

*Amanda Aldridge was born on this date in 1866. She was a Black British opera singer, teacher, and composer.

Amanda Christina Elizabeth Aldridge was born in Upper Norwood, London, the third child of Black actor Ira Frederick Aldridge and his second wife, Amanda Brandt, who was Swedish. She had two sisters, Rachael and Luranah, and two brothers, Ira Daniel and Ira Frederick. She studied voice, harmony, and counterpoint at the Royal College of Music in London. After completing her studies, Aldridge worked as a concert singer, piano accompanist, and voice teacher.

Aldridge ended her singing career to compose and teach music after laryngitis damaged her throat. She mainly composed Romantic parlor music, a type of popular music performed primarily in parlors of middle-class homes, frequently by amateur singers and pianists. Aldridge published about thirty songs between 1907 and 1925 in a romantic parlor style and instrumental music in other styles. She wrote love songs, suites, sambas, and light orchestral pieces published under the pseudonym Montague Ring. Under this name, she gained recognition for her many voice and piano compositions, including love songs, suites, sambas, and light orchestral pieces in a popular style infused with multiple genres.

As a teacher, among her pupils were the children of London's politically active Black middle classes, including Amy Barbour-James, daughter of John Barbour-James, Frank Alcindor, son of Dr. John Alcindor, and composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's sister Alice Evans. Her notable students included Black performers Roland Hayes, Lawrence Benjamin Brown,  Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, and Bermudian-British actor Earl Cameron. In 1930, when Robeson performed as Othello in the West End, Aldridge was in attendance and gave Robeson the gold earrings that her father had worn as Othello. Aldridge also mentored singer Ida Shepley and converted her from a singer to a stage actor.

In 1951, Jet magazine reported that she was still giving piano and voice lessons at age 86. When she became ill, Aldridge cared for her sister, the opera singer Luranah, declining W. E. B. Du Bois's invitation in 1921 to attend the second Pan-African Congress. At 88, Aldridge made her first television appearance in the British show Music for You, where Muriel Smith sang Montague Ring's "Little Southern Love Song." After a short illness, Amanda Aldridge died in London on March 9, 1956, a day before her 90th birthday.

In the Autumn 2020 edition of The Historian, Stephen Bourne assessed the composer's life and career in an illustrated feature, "At Home with Amanda Ira Aldridge."  He had previously written Aldridge's article for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. In 2022, Google honored Aldridge's memory.

To Become a professor
To Become a Conductor or Composer

Reference:

EHMS.Lib.UMN.edu

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