Behind the Music: Teresa and Arwen Morgan   7 comments

I learned about the suicide of Arwen Morgan, daughter of Seattle Music icon Teresa Morgan, while preparing for the second Wisconsin benefit.  I had only met Arwen once, at a Victory Music’s open mic at the QCafe, where she was promoting her one-woman show.  She performed an original song.  She was good. She was very good.  Young, poised, lovely, and talented.

I had met Teresa a handful of times, also at the Q, where she was an infrequent performer.  She was always interesting and professional…and entertaining, whether playing the harmonium, guitar, or a combination of instruments, singing, chanting…

I think I confounded her by inquiring as to the plural of harmonium (harmonia?)…

Many of the Q/Victory Music regulars were familiar with the family band, the Cutters, mainstays at Folklife, Tumbleweed, and other festivals, venues, and events.  I wasn’t.

So when I got the email that Arwen had taken her life, it seemed appropriate to suggest some form of memorial during the Wisconsin performance.  The result was a touching chantey by family friends Dan Roberts and Tom Rawson…along with a moment of silence we shared with our in-house audience and those watching online, especially in Wisconsin.

A couple of months ago, I was again contacted by friends of the family.  Teresa had been hospitalized for mental issues resulting from the death of her daughter.  She was debilitated.  Her marriage and home were gone.  She was broke and the music community was banding together to help.  A monthly series of concerts were being organized to raise money.  It was a remarkable outpouring of love and support.  Though I didn’t know her well, Teresa was a sister in our music family.  More important, we shared another bond, a more personal bond.  I had a daughter the same age as Arwen.

So, I was the first performer of the first concert, joined by my friend and kindred spirit, Steve Beck, for the second half of my set.  I was informed that I was a good choice because I had the ability to “frame” moments. Steve and I were followed by the wonderful female indie trio, “The Gloria Darlings” and guitar maven and Bruce Cockburn cultist, Rob Kneisler.  We raised over $2000 that night…Teresa was unable to attend but her daughter, Lara, mother of three small children, conveyed the flow of events to her.

I was invited to emcee the second show, a month later.  A few days earlier I had one of two cataract surgeries, so driving to downtown Seattle, in the rain, during rush hour, with different vision emanating from either eye was…an adventure.  Even in the best of times Seattle can be an unforgiving maze of wrong turns and one way traps.  I made it and had the pleasure of sharing the emcee chores with my young friend Pandi, co-founder of the Gloria Darlings and multi-talented songwriter/singer.  Ironically,  our original friendship was originally founded upon our mutual adoration for Phil Ochs, who’s life ended exactly as had Arwen’s.

The talent that night was impeccable.  One of my songwriter favorites, Bill Davie led off, followed by the Pete Seegerish Tom Rawson, and the outrageously talented Whateverly Brothers.  During one of the breaks, I asked Lara to come on stage and give us an update on her mother.  We learned that Teresa was still fragile and progress was going to be slow.

The following Tues., I was just returning from my second cataract surgery, when I received a call from Dan Roberts.  He was crying.  Teresa Morgan had jumped to her death from the Magnolia Bridge.

Posted December 8, 2011 by garykanter in Uncategorized

7 responses to “Behind the Music: Teresa and Arwen Morgan

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  1. wonderful story. Are you posting that so someone can get it in the “Teresa” memory book? Harmonias! She was strangely naive sometimes, especially when humor was directed at her or hers. I think sometimes her life was so hard, that humor and fun just went right on by her pain filled psyche. As if she wasn’t allowed.

    • Sally,
      I just posted it as part of my blog. I’m glad you enjoyed it. with every event…every conversation…I get a few more pieces to the puzzle that was their lives behind the music.

  2. I just ran into this piece again today as I listened to her beautiful album, Door of my Heart, and searched the web to see what might be there now. Every so often I get the courage to listen to her (and Arwen’s) music. I don’t want to lose that from my life too. Thanks. Sally

  3. Thanks Gary . Been. thinking about them the last few weeks. Just found this. Eric

  4. Teresa Morgan was a beautiful woman with a beautiful soul. I loved her singing, though I had the good fortune speak to her only once. She mentioned she had been a folk phenom in earlier, perhaps better days. It breaks my heart to hear of her and her daughter’s pain in life. Then again, if I may be indulged, they’re both in a better place, a place we’ll all get to eventually. Best to all, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

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