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Georgia Ann Laster (1927-1961)

GEORGIA ANN LASTER was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on November 18, 1927. She was the fifth child and only daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Robert E. Laster.  Her early education through Junior College was received in Little Rock, after which she came to Los Angeles and received her Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Southern California in 1948.  She studied voice privately with Mme. Nadina de Sanctis.  Miss Laster, a soprano,  was the winner of many major awards, including the following:
 

  • 1948 - The Atwater Kent Foundation Auditions

  • 1949 - National Association of Negro Musicians Scholarship Winner

  • 1950 - University of California Young Artists Foundation Award

  • 1951 - The Marian Anderson $1000 Award
            - The John Hay Whitney Award
            - The Fulbright Scholarship for Study in Europe
            - Lotte Lehmann Scholarship

  • 1952 - Walter W. Naumberg Foundation Award

 

She made several tours of the United States and toured Japan, the Caribbean, South America, Jamaica, and Europe, where she was widely acclaimed by critics in Sweden, Germany, Norway, Vienna, and Copenhagen.  She was a soloist on the Standard Hour, with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, with Bruno Walter and the San Francisco Symphony; the San Diego Symphony, with Robert Shaw conducting; Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, with Jorn Barnett conducting; and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.  She made her Town Hall Debut in New York City, on December 1, 1953.

 

In 1960, she joined the staff at the Music Department of Brooklyn College, New York, as a teacher of voice.  On September 4, 1961, near Lodi, California, Georgia Laster met death in an automobile accident, which also took the life of her mother, Mrs. Georgia E. Laster.

 

When the Los Angeles Branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians officially became an associate, recognized branch, it was unanimously decided to honor the memory of Georgia by renaming the branch after her.