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McKay Morgan: Concert Pianist
Rison Native Performed in Concert Halls Across America and Europe
Morgan, stage name "Tamara," was a noted concert pianist in Europe and
America. She was bom in Rison in December 1890. Her father, R. W.
McKay, was a Methodist minister who was
to several churches in south Arkansas. He was the first minister of the
Rison Methodist Church.
Ms. Morgan spent most of her early life in southeast Arkansas. She attended Galloway College in Searcy, a Methodist school for women from which she graduated in 1909 with a certificate in music.
She married Charles McRae Morgan, M.D., a native of Union County, Arkansas who was a nephew ofT. C. McRae, a former U. S. Representative and Governor of Arkansas. Dr. Morgan practiced as a physician in Arkansas until 1920 when he became a medical missionary working in Belgium, Poland and White Russia in the U. S. Relief effort in Europe immediately after World War I. He died in 1923.
Ms. Morgan and her daughter, Martha, bom in Camden, Arkansas in 1913, who later became a well-known editor of arts and entertainment for the San Jose Mercury in San Jose, California, remained in Europe until 1936 when they returned to the United States.
While in Europe, Ms. Morgan performed with a number of highly regarded European Symphony Orchestras including those in Italy, Germany,
Czechoslovakia, the Scandinavian countries and
England. She got excellent reviews and was regarded as an outstanding
Newspaper accounts of her performance with the London Symphony indicate that members of the British Royal Family were in attendance. She was credited with introducing George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" to Europe when she played it at a concert in Austria. She was also considered a premier interpreter of Mozart's piano music.
Upon her return to the U.S. in 1936, she lived in California and played with numerous orchestras in that area, including the San Francisco Symphony. She also composed music for the film industry and taught at San Jose State College.
She was scheduled to perform with the San Francisco Symphony in October 1939. A few days prior to her performance she became ill, entered a local hospital, underwent surgery and died. At her funeral on October 12,1939 the San Francisco Symphony played a memorial to her which was the same date she was to have performed with that orchestra.
Black Entrepreneur in Early Rison Dabbled in Farming, Timber and Other Businesses
Sam Ballard was one of the early black entrepreneurs in Rison. At one time or another he was a farmer, timber contractor and saw mill, grist mill and sorghum mill operator.
His wife, Mattie, was a homemaker and, for several years, she operated a cloth shop in a structure adjacent to her home.
Their children were Lena, Authur, Blanch, Clara, Odie, Thommy, Gentle and Ora.
Sam Ballard was born in 1867, he died in 1940. Mattie was born in 1868 and died in 1954.
This is Mattie Ballard, she's the wife of Sam Ballard. She died in 1954. Everyone called her Grandma Mat. There were 9 children Lena, Auther, Blanch, Clara, Odie, Tommy, Gentle, Ora an Ollie.
If you're interested in the Ballard family, you can contact Ann Curry, Sam Ballard & Mattie Ballard are her great great grand parents.
The email address of Ann Curry
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