Born on February 27, 1897, in Philadelphia, much of her singing career was spent performing in concert and recital in major music venues and with famous orchestras throughout the United States and Europe between 1925 and 1965.
In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. The incident placed Anderson into the spotlight of the international community on a level unusual for a classical musician. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned her membership in the DAR in protest and arranged for Anderson to perform an open-air concert on Easter Sunday in 1939. She sang before a crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience in the millions. Two of the pieces she sang in that recital were by Little Rock native Florence Price.
When Anderson performed at Robinson Auditorium in 1940, two pieces by Price were part of that concert as well.
She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1978, and the National Medal of Arts in 1986. Two years before her 1993 death, she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.