Greenfield, Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield (1809-1876)

One of first African American vocalists to gain recognition in the United State and Europe

Former Studio Address: 1013 Rodman Street

(See place marker no. 5 on map)

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield was the first African-American singer to appear in a command performance before English royalty, a concert given at Buckingham Palace in 1854 for the Queen of England. Born a slave in Mississippi in 1809, she was brought to Philadelphia at an early age by a Quaker woman named Greenfield, who reared her as a free person. She received voice, piano, and guitar lessons as a child and was recognized for having an unusual vocal range of three and a quarter octaves. Green-field performed extensively throughout the United States, England and Canada, and music critics who heard her rich, clear voice named her "The Black Swan."

(From: Blockson, Charles L. Philadelphia's Guide: African-American State Historical Markers. Philadelphia: Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection / William Penn Foundation, 1992.)