Obituary: Helen Phillips, pioneering singer (

By Michael S. Schmidt
New York Times

NEW YORK – Helen L. Phillips, a lyric-dramatic soprano who preceded Marian Anderson in breaking color barriers at the Metropolitan Opera and elsewhere in the 1940s and ’50s, died July 27 in Manhattan. She was 86. The cause was heart failure, according to her nurse at the Isabella Geriatric Center.

In 1947 Ms. Phillips became the first black singer known to have appeared with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus, in what she recalled as an apparently accidental breaking of an unofficial color barrier. (more…)