Amanda Aldridge: Google honors opera singer and composer

Today’s Google Doodle pays homage to Amanda Aldridge, opera singer and acclaimed lounge music composer.

Amanda Aldridge was born on March 10, 1866 in London into a family of actors and musicians. Her mother was a Swedish opera singer, while her father was a renowned African-American stage actor. Having a natural talent for music, she studied voice and harmony at the Royal College of Music in London under the tutelage of greats like Jenny Lind and Sir George Henschel. After graduating, she embarked on her own music career.

However, Amanda Aldridge’s concert career was cut short after a bout of laryngitis led to a throat injury which damaged her voice. Instead, she turned to the profession of a music teacher, paving the way for many others to carry forward the great tradition of music. Amanda Aldridge’s students include Paul Robeson, a prominent American actor and political activist, and Marian Anderson, the first African-American singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera.

Amanda Aldridge was also an accomplished composer in the “living room music” business. Back when record players weren’t a common household item, the most effective way to get songs out was through sheet music. Parlor music was intended to be played at home with a piano—a common feature in middle-class homes—and accompanied by vocals.

Between 1907 and 1925, Amanda Aldridge composed more than 30 works – often under the pseudonym “Montague Ring” – including the song “Azalea”, seen below. His works have been credited for expertly blending the diverse styles of his own ethnic background, often using lines from Black American poetry in his lyrics.

Amanda Aldridge introduced herself, aged 88, to the next generation of music listeners by appearing on the British TV show music for you. She died a year later, a day before her 90th birthday. As to why Google chose today to celebrate the singer, on June 17, 1911, gave a recital at Queens Small Hall in London.

Today’s Google Doodle is primarily based on one of Amanda Aldridge’s rare photographs, showing the musician in her prime. Around the central image there is a bit of decoration, made from the treble clef and the bass clef of musical notation.

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