Florence Cole Talbert
American opera singerDied when: 70 years 290 days (849 months)
Star Sign: Gemini
Florence Cole Talbert-McCleave (born Florence Cole, June 17, 1890 – April 3, 1961), also known as Madame Florence Cole-Talbert, was an American operatic soprano, music educator, and musician.
Called "The First Lady in Grand Opera" by the National Negro Opera Guild, she was one of the first African American women and black opera artists performing abroad who received success and critical acclaim in classical and operatic music in the 20th century.
Through her career as a singer, a music educator, and an active member of the National Association of Negro Musicians, she became a legendary figure within the African American music community, also earning the titles of "Queen of the Concert Stage" and "Our Divine Florence." Most notably, she is credited with being the first African American woman to play the titular role of Verdi's Aida in a European staging of the opera.
Talbert was also one of the first African-American classical artists to record commercially.After retirement, Talbert became a music educator.
She taught in historically black colleges and universities such as Fisk University, Tuskegee University, and Rust College.Notably, she is credited with encouraging Marion Anderson, one of the most celebrated opera singers of the 20th century, to pursue a career in classical music.
During this time, she also composed the words to Delta Sigma Theta's official hymn.Talbert died in Memphis at the age of 70.
Although she did not receive the same fame as black female artists who came after her, such as Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price, her work in the 1910s and 1920s was instrumental in paving a path for black musicians in the classical world.