This Day in History: 1864-04-16

Popular and well-known black concert singer Flora Batson is born. Batson was nicknamed “The Double-Voiced Queen of Song” because of her soprano-baritone range, and was also called “the colored Jenny Lind” in the press. Batson began singing at a young age, in her church choir. In 1885, she began touring with the Bergen Star Company and became internationally known. She was a contemporary of Marie Selika Williams, Madam Flower “Bronze Melba”, and Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones. She performed with Jones in 1885 in Providence, Rhode Island and was sometimes considered her rival. Batson married John Bergen in 1887 and their interracial marriage was fodder for tabloids. Supported by Bergen’s management and touring company, she performed all over the world, including performances for royalty and religious leaders. Learn more.