Amanda Aldridge

Amanda Christina Elizabeth Aldridge (1866 – 1956), also known as Amanda Ira Aldridge was a British opera singer, teacher and composer, under the pseudonym of Montague Ring. She was the daughter of African-American Shakespearian actor Ira Aldridge.

Amanda Aldridge was born on 10 March 1866 in Upper Norwood, London, the third child of African-American Shakespearian actor Ira Frederick Aldridge and his second wife, the Swedish Amanda Brandt. Aldridge studied voice under Jenny Lind and Sir George Henschel at the Royal College of Music in London, and harmony and counterpoint with Frederick Bridge and Francis Edward Gladstone.

After completing her studies, Aldridge worked as a concert singer, piano accompanist, and voice teacher. A throat condition ended her concert appearances, and she turned to teaching and published about thirty songs between the years 1907 and 1925 in a romantic parlour style, as well as instrumental music in other styles. Her notable students included Roland Hayes, Lawrence Benjamin Brown, Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson. In 1930, when Robeson played Othello in the West End, Aldridge was in attendance, and gave Robeson the gold earrings that her father Ira Aldridge had worn as Othello. Aldridge also took the singer Ida Shepley under her wing and converted her from a singer to a stage actor.

She cared for her sister, the opera singer Luranah Aldridge, when she became ill, turning down an invitation in 1921 from W. E. B. Du Bois to attend the second Pan-African Congress, with a note explaining: “As you know, my sister is very helpless. . . . I cannot leave for more than a few minutes at a time.”

Aldridge ended her singing career to compose and teach music, when laryngitis had damaged her throat. Amanda Aldridge mainly composed Romantic parlour music, a type of popular music performed primarily in parlours of the middle-class homes, frequently by amateur singers and pianists. All of her published music was known under the name of Montague Ring. Under this pseudonym, she gained recognition for her many voice and piano pieces. She composed love songs, suites, sambas and light orchestral pieces, working in a popular style that was infused with multiple genres.

At the age of 88, Aldridge made her first television appearance in the British show Music For You, where Muriel Smith sang Montague Ring’s “Little Southern Love Song”. After a short illness, she died in London on 9 March 1956.