Mrs Susan Sunderland was born Susannah Sykes, daughter of James Sykes, at Spring Gardens, Waring Green, Brighouse on 30th April 1819.
She was baptised on 30th May 1819.
As a child, she sang at Bridge End Congregational Church.
As a girl, she worked in a textile mill, and had little education.
Early influences on her musical interests were
Her singing tutors included
In turn, she gave singing lessons to others, including Mary Tankard.
On 25th September 1833, she first sang in public at a benefit concert for Mrs Sladden held at Lightcliffe Church, and she was soon in demand throughout the West Riding and beyond.
In 1834, at the age of 15, she appeared on the public concert platform in Deighton
She had an imposing stature, and she was a popular figure and was known for her dress of black silk or satin, with a small coral brooch.
The flexibility of her voice and her repertoire were much admired.
In 1835, she was engaged to sing at the George Glee Club – this may be the same as the Ramsden's Arms Glee Club – one of the earliest musical societies in Huddersfield. The members included a number of musicians who were well-known locally:
She was subsequently engaged to sing at the Glee Club for the season at 5/- a night. The following season, the rate was increased to 10/- a night.
Following her successful début at St Paul's Church, Huddersfield, in December 1835, she continued to sing at the Church for a further 17 or 18 years
In 1836, she was a founding member and principal soprano of the Huddersfield Choral Society. It is said that, for 8 years, she walked from Brighouse to Huddersfield – and back – to sing in the choir.
On 7th June 1838, she married Henry Sunderland. They lived in and around Brighouse for the rest of their lives.
She sang at almost every concert given by the Halifax Choral Society in the period 1839-1863.
In 1842, when she sang in London for the first time at the Ancient Concerts at the Hanover Square Rooms, she attracted the attention of the Prince Consort and the Duke of Cambridge and was complimented by the Prince Consort.
On 7th September 1858, she sang before Queen Victoria at the opening of Leeds Town Hall.
On 1st June 1860, she was commanded to sing before Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace, where she sang The Captive Greek Girl.
In 1864, she retired from the platform after her last performance at Bradford's St George's Hall. She continued to give music lessons.
On the occasion of her Golden Wedding anniversary, 7th June 1888, a subscription concert was arranged at Brighouse Civic Hall. With the residual money raised from the concert, it was decided to start a Vocal Solo Competition to be named in her honour.
On a visit to London to sing for Queen Victoria, the Queen is said to have told her
I may be the Queen of England, but you are the Queen of Song
She was widely known as a soprano – the Calderdale Nightingale and Yorkshire's Queen of Song. She performed a famous rendition of I know that my Redeemer liveth.
She appeared at many concerts around the country, England, Scotland and Ireland.
On 7th May 1905, at the age of 86, she died at Spring Terrace, Waring Green. She was buried in Grave D Con 89 in Brighouse Cemetery on 10th May 1905 and huge crowds attended the funeral.
Sunderland Close, Waring Green is named for her.
There is a geranium named for her. This has lavender coloured flowers with plum-coloured spots on the petals
Page Ref: X5169
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