Sister Marie-Seraphine Gotay
Today’s featured composer/musician is Sister Marie-Seraphine Gotay.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Sister Marie-Seraphine Gotay (1865-1932) is the only Black female composer known to be active in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th Century. Against the odds, she attended a Roman Catholic music school not normally open to non-Whites, where she learned to play multiple instruments. She eventually became a music teacher for the all-Black Sisters of the Holy Family, staying in her post as director of music education for nearly fifty years. Her music was lost when the order’s convent moved from the French Quarter in the 1960s. We were able to locate her only extant work, “La Puertoriqueña: Reverie” and plan on including it in our volumes!
This is great work from your organization. I visited New Orleans in the summer of 2018 and saw a copy of her song, La Puertorriqueña, in Treme’s Petit Jazz Museum. I was amazed at the possibility of all the unknown linkages between New Orleans and where I’m from, Puerto Rico. Since I’m currently studying history, I’m interested in writing an article about her and the historical backgrounds of both NOLA and PR at the time. Thank you for your work by conserving all of this history. If any of you have any recommendations I will highly appreciate it. I could be contacted at email@example.com
Hi Paul, I’m sorry for my delayed response—I only now found your note!
Thank you for comment! I’m so happy to learn about your research on Sister Gotay, NOLA, and Puerto Rico. What a wonderful way to make those connections. I hope you’ll keep us informed as your project develops. We would love to be able to share news of your work with our readers and followers. I will also contact you via email.
Very best wishes to you.
Thank you so much, Megan.
I haven’t given up on the project. Anytime I get a break from working on my thesis I’ll be researching for more sources that lead me to her. I’ve found documents and have hunches once in a while. I will definitely share my work with all of you and even visit NOLA to further expose information about her.