|Nova Scotia's Black Heritage|
A Nova Scotian singer who never publicly recorded a note is internationally reknowned for her magnificent voice. That in itself is a phenomenon.
More remarkable yet is the story of Portia White, a black, female singer who rose to fame in the 1940's and all but disappeared from history until recently. The operative words here are "black" and "female", yokes under which Portia White laboured and which Nova Scotian writer/filmaker Sylvia Hamilton describes as 'the double whammy of being born black and female'. That being the case, being born black and female in the year 1911 must have been a 'triple by-pass' for most, but not for Portia White.
Portia White is described as one of the greatest vocalists in Canadian
history and has been repeatedly compared to Philadelphia's Marian
Anderson (1897 - 1993), also a classical contralto, also black and
female. Except for the long life and thus the lengthy career of Anderson,
her story and that of Portia White's are remarkably similar.
That same year, the Nova
Scotia Talent Trust was established to support Portia's career,
an organization which still exists and has rewarded exceptional Nova
Scotian artistic talents to the tune of almost a million dollars. In
the 50's, Portia was to give a command performance for Queen Elizabeth
Fortunately, all is not lost. Chris White (son of Lorne) and his sister worked hard to insure that the few family recordings of Portia's concerts were available to the National Archives of Canada. The quality is better than expected and a Portia White CD entitled "First, You Dream..." is now available. Don't miss out. It's the only recording of Nova Scotia's famous 'black female classical singer' you'll ever hear. Here's a snippet, from CBC Radio Arts.
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years
ago. The second best time is now". Chinese Proverb
home · about · contact · linkup · advertise · forum