Today's post is by guest blogger and HCHM Archivist, Jane Jones. Thank you Jane for researching and writing about a Newtonian who "made it" in New York as an opera singer.
The 1945 New York City newspaper headline reads " Bogart and Bacall are free to wed." Bogart's wife is giving him a divorce. On the same page is a reference to Newton's Ruthabel Rickman, "Concert Is Given by Altrusa Opera." One of the aims of the opera company was to encourage "Negro" musicians and composers. Rickman is listed as a soprano for the event probably singing Verdi in New York City's Town Hall.
Founded in 1921 by Suffragists, Town Hall is now a National Historic Site in the Theatre District near Times Square. Seating 1500 in red, cushy seats the Hall currently is the location for Garrison Keillor's radio broadcasts from New York and other concerts (Kevin Bacon and his brother will be appearing May 2, 2013), theatre and dance.
Ruthabel Rickman was talented enough to survive the New York scene. She was a graduate of Newton High School (1938) and Bethel College (1941). While at Bethel, Rickman was a member of the a cappella choir and studied voice, piano and organ.
|Ruthabel with 1938 NHS classmates|
Rickman married Frank Rollins in Chicago. They moved to Houston where she served on the faculty of Texas Southern University teaching voice until her death in 1982. In 1979, Ruthabel received Bethel's Distinguished Achievement Award. At her death there was a memorial service at Bethel College where her choir from TSU sang. Ruthabel's daughter Hazella Rollins Epps sang at the service. A home-grown talent, Ruthable Rickman made her mark on the world's stage through a very remarkable career.
|Ruthabel Rickman Rollins|
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