Rediscovering Diamond Teeth Mary

Diamond Teeth Mary

The Matheson History Museum will spotlight the story of Diamond Teeth Mary with a presentation by award-winning journalist Pete Gallagher on Thursday, April 23, 2015 from 6-8 pm. Diamond Teeth Mary is one of the many women who contributed to the blues genre. She sang and toured with many blues pioneers including Billie Holiday, Ray Charles and Bessie Smith. Her story will be brought to life by Pete Gallagher, who managed the comeback career of Diamond Teeth Mary. This event will feature a screening of Diamond Teeth Mary, a brief documentary written and produced by Pete Gallagher. About Diamond Teeth Mary:Many modern musician learn to play the blues by studying the masters. However, Diamond Teeth Mary learned to play blues by living them. Diamond Teeth Mary was originally named Mary Smith. Her half-sister was Bessie Smith, who continues to be known as the Empress of Blues. At the age of 13, Mary disguised herself as a young boy and joined the circus to escape her hometown. During the 1920s and 1930s Diamond Teeth Mary toured with some of the most notable blues musicians of the Twentieth Century. She inspired Johnny Copeland, John Lee Hooker, and Big Mama Thornton to become musicians. She performed at Carnegie Hall, the White House, the Apollo Theatre and the Cotton Club. She also toured Europe with the United Service Organization. In 1960, she settled in Bradenton, Florida, and she traded her blues for gospel. She gave up her nightclub engagements and became a star at local church events. For decades, many thought her career in music had ended. However, in the 1980s, she was discovered by Pete Gallagher, who brought her on to the National stage. After her absence she went on to perform at the Smithsonian's American Folklife Festival, sang for President Reagan at the White House, and embarked on a tour throughout Europe. A play about her life premiered at the Florida Folk Festival in 2000. Her gowns were later put on display in the Museum of Florida History and the Memphis Blues Museum.About Pete Gallagher:Pete Gallagher has been involved in Florida preservation pursuits since he graduated from the University of Florida in 1972. He has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize. He won the Robert F. Kennedy award for his work investigating the trial of James Richardson, a farm worker who was wrongfully accused of murder. His reports exposed the tragedy of Rosewood, an African American town that was razed to the ground in January 1923. Many newspaper reports blamed the destruction of the town on a race riot that was instigated by African Americans. Gallagher spent 15 years working for Chief Jim Billie at the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Pete was winner of the first Will McLean Poetry Contest, and is a two-time winner in the Live-Arts Peninsula Foundation’s “Floridian” songwriting contest. Pete is currently the host of the Florida Folk Show on WMNF Radio and a special projects writer for the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Date and Time:

6:00pm - 9:00pm April 23, 2015 - April 23, 2015


Matheson History Museum
513 East University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601

Event Repeat Summary:

Contact Information:

Stephanie Pastore


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