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June 17, 2022

Who’s the Black woman on today’s Google doodle? The woman who taught Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson, that’s who 

By TheGrio Staff

Who is Amanda Aldridge?

Today’s Google Doodle comes as so many American school children are celebrating the end of the school year. It honors a British composer, teacher and opera singer — who, on this day in 1911, performed a piano recital at Queens Small Hall, the principal concert auditorium in London before the First World War and the venue that the BBC Symphony and London Philharmonic orchestras called home.

Today in 1911, Amanda Aldridge — Google Doodle subject — performed a recital on her piano at Queens Small Hall, the principal concert auditorium in London before First World War. (Screenshot)

The third daughter of a Black American Shakespearean actor and a Swedish opera singer, Aldridge was born in 1866 in London and showed her musical prowess at a young age, according to Google. 

She studied at the London Royal Conservatory of Music as a vocalist and honed her skills under the tutelage of Swedish soprano Jenny Lind. A bout of laryngitis reportedly cut her singing career short, but she went on to become a teacher, pianist, and composer. 

Aldridge combined her passion for rhythmic influences and operatic history through poetry and performing in the living rooms or parlors of middle-class homes at the turn of the 20th century. 

Her 1913 piano composition, “Three African Dances,” which was inspired by West African drumming, became her signature piece. She used it in the instruction of her two most famous students, globally renowned Black contralto Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson, the Black bass-baritone, actor and civil rights activist.

As noted by Google, Aldridge composed love songs, sambas and orchestral pieces as she aged. She appeared on television at 88 years old for the first time via the British show Music for You, introducing a new generation to her classic compositions.

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