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On Past African American History (Not In the Books), we discovered fascinating post by ED Hutchison about Robert Todd Duncan.
Robert Todd Duncan was an American baritone opera singer and actor. As Robert Todd Duncan, he was born February 12, 1903 in Danville, Kentucky to John and Lettie Duncan.
Todd Duncan debuted with the New York City Opera as Tonio in Il Pagliacci. He is the first African American to sing a leading role with a major American company, almost ten years before Marian Anderson sings with the Metropolitan Opera.
Todd Duncan in 1930, photographed (second picture) by Addison Scurlock. In 1935, Mr. Duncan was selected by George Gershwin to originate the role of Porgy in “Porgy and Bess” and in 1955, he was the first person to record the now classic song, “Unchained Melody.” Mr. Duncan earned a bachelor’s degree at Butler University in 1925, and a master’s at Columbia University Teachers College in 1930. He later taught voice at Howard University, well into his 90’s, for over fifty years.