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LILLIAN EVANTI

AUGUST 12, 1890 - DECEMBER 6, 1967

Lillian Evans Tibbs graduated from Howard University in 1917 and traveled to Europe in 1924 to study voice in Paris. At that time, she changed her name to a combination of her family and married names and performed as Lillian Evanti. She established an operatic career in Europe (primarily France and Monte Carlo) and toured extensively in South America. While she was invited to audition for the Metropolitan Opera—and did so several times between 1932 and 1946—she (like all other African American singers invited to audition at the time) was never offered a contract. However, she performed regularly with Mary Cardwell Dawson’s National Negro Opera Company and maintained an active concert career. Evanti also turned to composition in the 1940s, working first with publisher and blues composer W.C. Handy; she eventually published on her own via the Columbia Music Bureau that she founded in Washington, D.C.

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