Mississippi Moment: Ruby Elzy

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PONTOTOC, Miss. (WJTV) – Well, sometimes I do consider myself to the the worlds oldest third grader, because I loved show-and-tell day. That’s when you got to tell the class about something you discovered. This is a discovery I made while I was looking around the Pontotoc Museum in the old post office building in downtown Pontotoc. 

I love these town museums. It’s like the attic of the city. There’s stuff from everybody, generally from people’s attics, too important to throw away, but nowhere to put. So it winds up in the local museum.

Now, I like old radios. So my eye fell upon this 1930’s upright set, but then I realized it was a part of a bigger display for Ruby Elzy.

Now, if you are like me and didn’t have an ah-ha moment at the mention of Ruby Elzy’s name, maybe it’s because she died in 1943.

Elzy was born in Pontotoc and went to college in nearby Holly Springs at Rust College, where someone heard her sing. And long story short, she ended up as an Opera Diva back in the 1930’s and 1940’s with perhaps her crowning accomplishment as Sabrina in George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

She sang the roll on opening night and subsequently about 800 more times in her life. After Porgy and Bess, she was about to star in the title roll of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida when she died of complications to remove a benign tumor at age 35.

Ruby Elzy sang at the White House, in the movies, on network radio and on Broadway. And she is another shinning star in Mississippi’s crown of accomplished artists and musicians who shaped with music industry and paved the way for others.

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