LA012 Interview: Mary Thames Coleman (LA012Abbott_Side1)
Side 1 and 2: Interview with Mary Thames Coleman on 1981-08-08. Abstract for Coleman: [0:00 – 46:00] Mary Thames Coleman and interviewer Lynn Abbott look at various photographs as Coleman identifies and dates the pictures. Coleman discusses the origins of her singing group, the Jackson Serenaders, which was one of the many "serenading" vocal combos in the 1920s – 4:58. Coleman relates how she became one of the group's featured vocalists by developing a large vocal range, and she further describes the popularity of serenading – 13:02. She discusses her youth in the Mississippi hill country and how she first learned to sing in public and developed her vocal range – 16:45. Coleman details a dream she had in which God gave her the ability to hit the highest vocal notes, and she discusses the influence of religion on her singing – 21:10. She briefly describes the singing "contests" in which she and her group would complete – 26:18. Coleman outlines the differences between serenading and gospel singing, and how her group changed styles – 31:00. Coleman and Abbott discusses some of her contemporaries in the New Orleans gospel community – 34:10. Coleman describes her own genealogy and her mixed ancestry – 39:10. Coleman relates how she came to live in New Orleans with an aunt following Coleman's parents' deaths, and how Coleman became a popular blues singer and guitar player in the city – 44:00. [0:00-41:51] On LA012Abbott_Side2 Coleman discusses learning how to play the guitar as a girl in Mississippi and playing at suppers and other events in the country. Coleman details how she switched from guitar to piano after moving to New Orleans and attracted huge crowds to her house while playing – 2:42. Coleman mentions an incident in which she performed in a tree as people walked around below – 5:30. She details how a conversation with God and a vivid dream further encouraged her to become religious – 7:22. Coleman talks about her baptism in 1933, how she became imbued with the Holy Ghost after the Lord in a church service prompted her to speak in tongues – 13:16. Coleman discusses how she became able to heal the sick and suffering, and she details two instances of her healing power – 20:55. She further relates how she gave up playing the blues and began a gospel career that lasted her whole life, and she details how her faith prompted her to visit hospitals to minister to patients, which she felt spread her prosperity and joy to others – 24:20. Abbott and Coleman discuss the exact dates and locations of the various recordings she and her group made – 32:00. Coleman describes her sadness at how Professor Longhair, Louis Armstrong, and Elvis Presley never reconciled with God – 37:40.