From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Rainer, Georgia B. Gomez [Madam Gomez]

(born: 1885  -  died: 1919) Madam Gomez was the stage name for Georgia Beatrice Barkley Gomez Rainer, a famous soprano operatic singer born in Lexington, KY, the daughter of Louisa Barkley Matthews and the stepdaughter of Courtney Matthews (1868-1940), a hostler and the overseer at Ashland Stud in Lexington.

Georgia Barkley was a graduate of Chandler Normal School in Lexington. She lived in Chicago with her aunt and uncle Robert and Lily Davis and received musical training in 1900 [source: U.S. Federal Census]. A graduate of Fisk University in Tennessee, Barkley specialized in vocal music and was an honors graduate the three years she attended the school. She had been giving concerts since 1904. After college Barkley continued performing. In 1907 she married Alphonse Frisco Gomez (b. 1884) in Mobile, AL.

She would return to Lexington for engagements, including performing before 22,000 people during the Booker T. Washington Day celebration at the Lexington Colored Fair. She also sang at Pleasant Green Baptist Church in November 1908 and later that month sang at the Pekin Theater and the Odd Fellow's Hall in Louisville, KY.

Gomez also performed with the vaudeville team Williams and Walker and later teamed with Will Downs, performing as Gomez and Downs [or Downz]. The team split in 1917 according to an article in Freeman, but according to her death notice in the Lexington Leader newspaper, they were a team at the time of Gomez's death in July 1919. Gomez died in New York, and according to the Lexington Leader article, Gomez's second husband Irving E. Rainer brought her body to Lexington for the funeral and burial.

It is not known when Georgia Gomez married Rainer; according to Alphonse F. Gomez's World War I U.S. Army registration (1917-18), Georgia was still his wife and was living at 3 West East Street in Mobile.

For more see the following articles in the Lexington Leader: W. Hill, "Madam Gomez," 7/25/1919, p. 3; "Complimentary notice," 7/28/1907, p. 3; "Married in Alabama," 4/14/1907, p. 4; and "Colored Notes," 11/15/1908, p. 16.

See the following articles in the Freeman: "One of Kentucky's favorite soprano singers...," 11/21/1908, p. 1; "Chicago Weekly Review: Downz & Gomez at the Grand," by Sylvester Russell, 7/24/1915, p. 5; "Georgia Gomez, late of Williams and Walker...," 5/14/1910, p. 5; "Tallabee returns to the Pekin - Mott's Theatre again crowded"; and the sentence that begins "Downs and Gomez sing in the...," 10/14/1911, p. 4.

See also "Senora Georgia Gomez...," Washington Bee, 8/18/1917, p. 2.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Rainer, Georgia B. Gomez [Madam Gomez],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed December 8, 2023, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/2583.

Last modified: 2023-07-05 18:06:35