|Sister Gertrude Morgan|
April 7, 1900
|Died||July 8, 1980
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Providence Memorial Park
|Spouse(s)||Will Morgan (1928-?)|
Sister Morgan was married to Will Morgan in 1928, but at the age of 38 thought she 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.
She believed God told her to begin painting in 1956, and in 1957 thought she heard a voice telling her that she was the Bride of Christ. Thus she adopted a white habit and moved out of the orphanage to establish "The Everlasting Gospel Mission" in the French Quarter of New Orleans. She was discovered by the art dealer Larry Borenstein, "who discovered her shouting through her paper megaphone on a street corner around 1960 and invited her to perform and show her work at his gallery in the French Quarter."
Music was one of the tools of Sister Morgan's ministry. In the early 1970s, Let's Make A Record was recorded in order to capture Morgan singing and playing her tambourine. In 2004 the original album was re-released on the Preservation Hall Recordings label.
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.
Sister Morgan 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 and Jesus 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. "Shortly after more than 75 of her works appeared in a three-person show at the Folk Art Museum in New York in 1973, Morgan received a new revelation telling her to stop painting. From then until her death she concentrated on preaching and poetry. 'Painting now? Oh no,' she reportedly said in 1974. 'I'm way too worried. Worrying about what time it is and praying on people's cases.'"
Sister Morgan died in 1980.
Works or publications
- Fagaly, William A., Gertrude Morgan, Jason Berry, and Helen Shannon. Tools of Her Ministry: The Art of Sister Gertrude Morgan. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2004. Exhibition catalog. ISBN 978-0-912-16120-4
- Morgan, Gertrude. Let's Make a Record. [New Orleans, Louisiana]: Preservation Hall Recordings, 2004. Recorded live in the Prayer Room, 511 Royal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Britt, King, and Gertrude Morgan. King Britt Presents Sister Gertrude Morgan. [New York]: Ropeadope, 2005. Sister Gertrude Morgan originally recorded at the Preservation Hall, New Orleans, 1968. King Britt recorded at the Hut and Nautica, Philadelphia.
Notes and references
- "Gertrude Morgan - United States Social Security Death Index". FamilySearch. July 1980. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "Gertrude "Sister Gertrude Morgan" Williams Morgan". Find A Grave. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- DeCarlo, Tessa (22 February 2004). "Sister Gertrude, a Preacher Who Could Paint". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "Frances Williams - United States Census, 1920". FamilySearch. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "Gertrude Morgan - United States Census, 1940". FamilySearch. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- Sheets, Hilarie M. (15 August 2004). "Books in Brief: Nonfiction - Tools of Her Ministry". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- Ratliff, Ben (2 August 2004). "CRITIC'S CHOICE/Jazz CD's; Singing With Power, Citing the Bible". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- Clark, Emily. She's the Four-Leaf Clover in the City Katrina Turned Over: The Historical Sister Gertrude Morgan and Her Post-Hurricane Katrina Specters. Thesis (M.A.) - University of Missouri-Columbia, 2009.