The Visions of Sister Gertrude Morgan
Photograph by Michael P. Smith ©The Historic New Orleans Collection
Sister Gertrude Morgan, street evangelist, painter, poet and visionary, created worlds of exuberant joy and unflinching faith using bright acrylics, watercolors, tempera paint, felt tip pen and electric white shoe polish. She painted her vision of New Jerusalem — gardens, high rise apartment buildings, and angels and airplanes, with herself drawn in as the bride of Jesus — on paper, toilet rolls, plastic pitchers, scrap wood, lampshades, Styrofoam trays, wedding dresses and guitar cases.
From “God’s Greatest Hits.”
New Jerusalem Court, Gloryland St.
New Jerusalem Rose Garden Court
House of Worship
The Angel John Saw
Born in 1900 as the seventh child of a rural Alabama farmer, Sister Gertrude moved to New Orleans in 1939, after hearing a voice from God telling her to spread her gospel through art and sound in the “headquarters of sin.”
Sister Gertrude with Allan Jaffe, a young Ben Jaffe and Sandra Jaffe. Photo by Lee Friedlander. Courtesy Preservation Hall Foundation.
Sister Gertrude Morgan using a megaphone and a tapper to assist in her service in the Prayer Room of the Everlasting Gospel Mission”, 1973, Collection New Orleans Museum of Art
In 1970, Preservation Hall captured a 50-minute recording of Sister Gertrude singing gospel songs in a Prayer Room of the Everlasting Gospel Mission, accompanied only by her stomping foot and a shaking tambourine. They are 14 songs of inflated spirit and deep, abiding faith. Though Sister Gertrude’s paintings achieved wide acclaim in her lifetime, her music remained obscure until 2005, when Philadelphia DJ King Britt re-released her album, Let’s Make A Record, with new beats and instrumentation.
For Six of Saturns, our Jazz Fest celebration, we’ll be celebrating Sister Gertrude. Together with Vinyl Me, Please, we’re re-releasing both the original and remixed albums with a collector’s edition double-LP on vinyl. You can get a copy at the King Britt show and after Jazz Fest on the Ace Shop. All proceeds benefitPreservation Hall Foundation.
New Jerusalem Lamb and Wife
We Are Soldiers In The Army.