1 photographic print gelatin silver 7 x 5 in. (17.8 x 12.7 cm)
The Evans-Tibbs Collection focuses on the life and accomplishments of opera singer, Madame Lillian Evanti. Born Annie Lillian Evans (1890-1967) to a prominently middle-class family in Washington, DC, she began performing as a child and toured as a concert artist after graduating from Howard University. Her father was Wilson Bruce Evans, founding principal of Armstrong Technical High School. Her mother, Annie Brooks Evans, was a music teacher in the public school system. Hiram Revels, the first African American senator, was her great-uncle; her maternal grandfather, Joseph Brooks, served in the D.C. Territorial Legislature in the 1870s; two relatives are attributed with taking part in John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. In 1918, she married Roy Tibbs, Howard University music professor. Her stage name, Madame Evanti, is a glamorous combination of Evans and Tibbs. Madame Evanti made her professional debut with the Paris Opera in the title role of Lakmé, making her the first African American to sing with an organized European opera company. Before her retirement in the 1950s, Evanti would win acclaim for her operatic talents in Europe, South America, Africa, and the Caribbean. She was decorated by several countries, sung at the White House, served as a Good Will Ambassador, performed with the National Negro Opera Company, and gained national attention as a composer.
Evans-Tibbs Collection, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of the Estate of Thurlow E. Tibbs, Jr