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Wed, 04.30.1890

L. Viola Kinney, Pianist, and Educator born

L. Viola Kinney

*The birth of L. Viola Kinney is celebrated on this date c.1890.  She was a Black composer, pianist, and teacher active during the first half of the twentieth century.  

Born Lady Viola Kinney in Sedalia, Missouri, she was one of the five children of Patrick and Lillian Kinney. Her father was a cook and her mother worked in the shops of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Kinney studied music at Western University in Quindaro, Kansas.  There she participated in the harmony class and the choral society under the tutorship of Robert G. Jackson, Director of the music department.

After she completed her college education she moved back to Sedalia where in 1911 she began a 35-year career as a teacher of music and English at the segregated secondary school, Lincoln High School. She became head of the school's music department and also gave piano recitals in Sedalia and surrounding towns. She had married Frederick Ferguson, an undertaker in 1918, but the couple separated in 1925. After the separation Kinney lived in her widowed mother's house and later reverted to her maiden name.

L. Viola Kinney died in 1945 and was buried in Crown Hill cemetery in Sedalia. Her composition for solo piano, Mother's Sacrifice, is the only score that has been found, although she registered the copyrights for at least two other compositions: Show Me, set to a text by Fredericka Douglass Perry (1941) and Time Out for Love (1943).  Her piano piece Mother's Sacrifice was published in 1909 and recorded by Albany Records in 2005.  

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