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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tessie Mobley
Portrait of Tessie "Lushanya" Mobley
Tessie Mobley in the 1930s
Born(1906-12-04)December 4, 1906
DiedDecember 19, 1990(1990-12-19) (aged 84)
Other namesLushanya Vinay
OccupationOpera singer

Tessie Mobley (December 4, 1906 – December 19, 1990) was an American operatic soprano.

Mobley was the daughter of Benjamin E. and Tennie Worsham Mobley, and was raised near Ardmore, Oklahoma;[1] her father was white, while her mother was of Chickasaw descent.[2] One of her sisters was Marie Muchmore, who would go on to witness, and film, the assassination of John F. Kennedy.[3] One-quarter Chickasaw,[4] she grew up in both cultures, and was especially close to her maternal grandmother, who spoke no English and taught her to do beadwork and to identify herbs and other edible things in nature.[2] She also learned how to break horses and shoot a rifle, and became a member of the women's rifle team at the University of Oklahoma. Mobley initially studied piano as a child before transitioning into voice lessons.[1] Her interest in opera developed in high school.[2] She continued her study of music at the University of Georgia and at Christian College in Columbia, Missouri. She married Louis Brave, an Osage actor, in 1926, divorcing him in 1931.[1]

In 1929, Mobley auditioned for the Indian Ceremonials at the Hollywood Bowl.[2] She was discovered by Charles Wakefield Cadman, who launched her career. At this time she adopted the name "Lushanya", meaning "songbird", and she was henceforth frequently known as the "Songbird of the Chickasaws".[1] Invited by a promoter to appear in Germany, she received scholarships to study opera at the Berlin University of the Arts and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome in the early 1930s.[2][4] In 1935 she appeared in the annual performance of The Song of Hiawatha by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor at the Royal Albert Hall in London, singing the role of Minnehaha. She continued to sing solo roles in Los Angeles and Chicago, notably taking on the title role of Aida with the Chicago Opera Company in Trieste, the first person of native American descent to perform the part. Another signature piece was Cadman's opera Shanewis.[1] Mobley was the first American Indian to sing at La Scala.[5] She performed at the 1936 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The following year she sang at the coronation of George VI of the United Kingdom. She also traveled overseas to entertain American soldiers during World War II. Mobley later married Ramón Vinay, retiring to manage his career. She died in Fort Worth, and is buried in her hometown of Ardmore.[1]

As Lushanya Vinay, Mobley was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1964.[4] She was inducted into the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame in 2009,[6] an honor accepted in her stead by her niece, Aurelia Guy Phillips.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Mobley, Tessie – The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture". Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Richard Green (20 January 2006). Te Ata: Chickasaw Storyteller, American Treasure. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 176–. ISBN 978-0-8061-3754-4.
  3. ^ "The Mobley Family of Plano, Texas". Archived from the original on May 1, 2004. Retrieved 2017-04-07.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link). Surnames for Rose Hill Cemetery, Carter County, Oklahoma[dead link]. Obituary of Robert Mobley Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, The Daily Ardmorite, April 25, 2001.
  4. ^ a b c "Vinay, Lushanya – 1964 – Oklahoma Hall of Fame". Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Tessie "Lushanya" Mobley". Retrieved 2017-09-26.
  6. ^ "Press Release – Chickasaw Nation". Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  7. ^ "Four inducted into Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame". Retrieved 26 September 2017.
This page was last edited on 21 February 2020, at 15:55
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