Posted on 06/20/2015

Photo taken on August  1, 1902

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Also known as 'Lucie Lenoir'
'Creole Nightingale'
Rachel Walker Turner
Married Robert Turner in 1916

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Photo replaced on June 26, 2015
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The Creole Nightingale

The Creole Nightingale
Rachel Walker Turner (1868 - 1943), daughter to T.W. and M.L. (Lenyar) Turner, graduated from Cleveland's Central High School, entered Cleveland Normal Training School, and became a teacher in 1889. She taught in Cleveland schools for a few years before she followed a career as a singer. She studied in New York and then expanded her musical training in Europe. In 1895 the music critic of the Cleveland Leader wrote: "I listened to one young lady whom I regard as the coming soprano of the age, Rachel Walker. I am confident.... she will prove to be one of the greatest living singers. Her vocalization is extremely soulful." That same year, she toured California as the prima donna of the white Henry Wolfsohn Musical Bureau, and in July 1896 she made her debut as "The Creole Nightingale" in New York City at the Olympia Roof Garden, where the "unusual compass and excellent quality" of her voice made her "an extraordinary hit." A correspondent for the Cleveland Gazette who saw her New York performance complained about her "palming herself off as a 'creole' rather than stressing "the Afro-American connection."

Miss Walker later joined the Robert Downing Company in Washington D.C. and then went to Europe to study voice. She lived in London, England and performed throughout Europe sometimes under the name Lucie Lenoir. At the outbreak of World War I she returned to Cleveland where she married Robert Turner and ran a music studio. Although she made a few concert appearances, due to the lack of opportunities for African-American singers in the United States during the early 20th century, her career came to an end.

Photo: [Historical Society of Cleveland]
Bio: [Black Americans in Cleveland by Russell H. Davis, Associated Publishers, 1972]