Territorial Bands and a New Headquarters
enlarge image and get full caption
Ad for the George Morrison Orchestra courtesy Chuck Haddix

switch to section photos

George Morrison Orchestra

The George Morrison Orchestra, based in Denver, was the first band from the territories to arrive in Kansas City. A society band, the Morrison Orchestra played a mixture of classical, pop standards and spirituals. The group featured future band leader Andy Kirk, and vocalist and entertainer Hattie McDaniel, who later went on to become the first African American to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in the movie Gone with the Wind.

During a tour of the Midwest in 1923, the Morrison band stopped off in 18th and Vine for a concert at the Lincoln Theater. During a return visit in 1925, the Morrison band followed a week long engagement at the Pantages Theater downtown with a concert and dance at the Labor Temple. The Morrison Orchestra's polished style impressed the dancers at 18th and Vine, more accustomed to the stomp-down style of the Moten and Lee bands. During the band's stay in Kansas City, McDaniel recorded for Meritt records, a local label owned by Winston Holmes. Morrison gave up touring in the mid-1920s and remained in Denver where he worked as an educator and band leader.

[return to top]