Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sister Gertrude Morgan

Found something out I didn't know today.   Got an email from a gallery in Philadelphia, said they had a client that brought in a Sister Gertrude Morgan painting along with a vinyl copy of her album "Let's Make A Record".  The client also said they bought it from Larry Borenstein(proprietor of Associated Artists Gallery which eventually became Preservation Hall).  Vinyl?  Didn't know it had been released on vinyl.   After a few inquiries, I found out there were originally 500 copies released in the 70s, each HAND PAINTED by Sister Gertrude Herself.  Wouldn't mind getting my hands on one of those.  Very cool.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with Sister Gertrude, here's a bit from Wikipedia:

Sister Gertrude

 Morgan (1900-1980) was a preacher, missionary, artist, musician, and poet who worked in New Orleans in the 1960s and '70s, notable primarily for her folk art.

She was born in 1900 in Lafayette, Alabama, and moved to Columbus, Georgia at the age of eighteen. She was married to Will Morgan in 1928, but at the age of 38 heard a voice from God telling her to become a street evangelist. She left her family and husband to move to New Orleans, where she organized an orphanage with two other missionaries.

God told her to begin painting in 1956 and in 1957 heard a voice telling her that she was the Bride of Christ. Hearing this news, she adopted a white habit and moved out of the orphanage to establish "The Everlasting Gospel Mission" in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Music was one of the tools of her ministry, and in the early 1970s, Let's Make A Record was recorded in order to capture Morgan singing and playing her tambourine.

She painted in order to create visual aids for her preaching, and her paintings use a colorful religious iconography. Some of her favorite subjects are the Book of Revelation and her andJesus flying in an airplane, this last accompanied by the poem "Jesus is my air Plane." She painted on whatever was at hand, including styrofoam trays, window shades and even toilet paper rolls.

Her art brought her fame and notoriety, and in 1974 she announced that the Lord had ordered her to cease painting in order to concentrate on her preaching and poetry. She died in 1980.

In 2005, the New Orleans Museum of Art presented the first comprehensive collection of her art. Also in 2005, the Ropeadope label released King Britt presents Sister Gertrude Morgan, which took the a cappella/tambourine recordings of Let's Make A Record and added contemporary beat programming and instrumentation. The album received rave reviews and created a new, young audience for Sister Gertrude Morgan. The album artwork featured her paintings.

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