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Blanche Burton-Lyles

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Information about Blanche Burton-Lyles

Profile image of Blanche Burton-Lyles

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Cultural Heritage Chief Executive
Pianist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Salmon
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas, Easter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Islands
Favorite Quote:
You Must Be Kidding.

Birthplace

Born:
3/2/1933
Birth Location:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Cultural Heritage Chief Executive
Pianist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Salmon
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas, Easter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Islands
Favorite Quote:
You Must Be Kidding.

Birthplace

Born:
3/2/1933
Birth Location:
Philadelphia
See how Blanche Burton-Lyles is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Accomplished concert pianist and music educator Blanche Henrietta Burton-Lyles was born on March 2, 1933 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father sang bass in the choir at Union Baptist Church which was also attended by her mentor, Marian Anderson who encouraged her young protégé to pursue a career in classical music. Marian Anderson invited Burton-Lyles to entertain guests in her home many times. By age seven, Burton-Lyles was considered a child prodigy, and in 1944, at age 11, she received an unlimited scholarship to study piano at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. The first African American female pianist to play at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1947, Burton-Lyles entered and won the Young Audiences Competition. In 1954, she graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music where she received her B.A. degree in music.

Continuing her studies and her professional career, Burton-Lyles performed at Yale University with the New Haven Symphony and performed for fifteen years with Leroy Bostic and the Mellow Aires. In 1963, she joined the Philadelphia Board of Education as a teacher. She continued her own studies and received her B.A. degree in music education in 1971 from Temple University. Burton-Lyles retired from teaching in 1993 and became the founder and President of the Marian Anderson Historical Society, Inc. She acquired both of Anderson’s historical residences in 1998 and Anderson’s birthplace in 2000. Burton-Lyles, who has made it her mission to preserve Anderson’s legacy, maintains both sites, which houses memorabilia, rare photos, books, and paintings relating to the contralto’s life. The Anderson Residence/Museum also offers musical programs, lectures, audio-visual presentations and even private lessons.

Burton-Lyles is the recipient of numerous performance awards and humanitarian honors. These include the Shirley Chisholm Philadelphia Political Congress of Black Women Award for Achievement in Music in 1994 and the National Black Music Caucus Award for Outstanding Women in Music in 1995. For preserving Marian Anderson’s legacy, Burton-Lyles has received the Mary McLeod Bethune Award from the National Council of Negro Women, 2000; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s highest honor – the Sadie T. Alexander Award, 2005; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.’s Edythe Ingram Award, 2006; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Cultural Award, 2007; and the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Unsung Hero Award at Carnegie Hall, 2007. She was also honored with the Philadelphia 76ers’ Community Service All-Star Award in 2004. For well over forty years, Burton-Lyles has enjoyed a multi-faceted career in classical music and continues to groom young classical vocal artists.

Burton-Lyles lives in Philadelphia with her family and is a member of Union Baptist Church where her mentor Marian Anderson sang as a child.

Burton-Lyles passed away on November 12, 2018.

Burton-Lyles was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 18, 2006.

See how Blanche Burton-Lyles is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Blanche Burton-Lyles' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Blanche Burton-Lyles lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her mother's musical background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her parents' professions
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her early musical influences
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her musical education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Blanche Burton-Lyles remembers her mother's music students
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Blanche Burton-Lyles remembers her father's musical talent
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Blanche Burton-Lyles reflects upon the role of music in her life
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her mother's music recitals
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her studies at the Ornstein School of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her early experiences of racial discrimination
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes Marian Anderson's residences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about her experiences at the Curtis Institute of Music
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Blanche Burton-Lyles remembers lessons from her mother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about the discrimination faced by Marian Anderson
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls the Temple University High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Blanche Burton-Lyles remembers playing with the Philadelphia Concert Orchestra
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her relationship with Marian Anderson
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the Marian Anderson Historical Residence Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her experiences of discrimination at the Philadelphia Orchestra
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Blanche Burton-Lyles remembers touring the country clubs in Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about Marian Anderson's career abroad
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about notable African American classical musicians
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Blanche Burton-Lyles remembers her first piano recital
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls notable African American female pianists
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls the support of the black musical community
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her experiences of racial discrimination as a teacher
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls performing with the New York Philharmonic
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes Marian Anderson's performance at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes a fundraiser for the Marian Anderson Historical Society, Inc.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her teaching positions
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the importance of musical education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about her sense of fashion
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her family's relationship with Marian Anderson
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the misconceptions about Marian Anderson
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her tour of the historically black colleges and universities
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her sponsorship of young singers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about her work to preserve Marian Anderson's legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the sponsorship program at the Marian Anderson Historical Society, Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about the Marian Anderson Historical Society, Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the former participants in the Marian Anderson Historical Society, Inc.'s sponsorship program
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about the relationship between musicians and audiences
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her plans for the Marian Anderson Heritage Village in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the importance of travel for musical education
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about the music industry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about her recent performances
  • Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the importance of musical education in the black community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Blanche Burton-Lyles reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls advocating for the Marian Anderson commemorative stamp
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about Marian Anderson's role in the March on Washington
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Blanche Burton-Lyles reflects upon her career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Blanche Burton-Lyles narrates her photographs
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Blanche Burton-Lyles plays the piano, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Blanche Burton-Lyles shares her Sadie T.M. Alexander May Week Award
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Blanche Burton-Lyles plays the piano, pt. 2