Allen played the role of Queenie in the 1954 New York City Opera production of Show Boat. She also starred in such works as Treemonisha, Falstaff, The Young Lords, La Somnabula, Oedipus Rex, and Four Saints in Three Acts. She also performed frequently with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philarmonic. In addition, she spent 40 years as a faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music and was former executive director of the Harlem School of the Arts.
She is survived by her husband, Ritten Edward Lee II, and her children, Juliana and Anthony.