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Dead Man BluesJelly Roll Morton Way Out West$
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Phil Pastras

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520215238

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520215238.001.0001

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Mamanita and the “Voodoo Witch”

Mamanita and the “Voodoo Witch”

(p.32) CHAPTER 2 Mamanita and the “Voodoo Witch”
Dead Man Blues

Phil Pastras

University of California Press

Jelly Roll Morton describes Anita Gonzales as the only woman he ever really loved and admits that she “managed” him. The phrase “voodoo witch” and the idea that Laura Hunter had made a pact with Satan suggest that Laura was involved in black magic, a practice that has a problematic relation to voodoo. Considering the length of time that Anita and Laura knew each other, it is hard to imagine that Anita could be so misinformed about the nature of Laura's voodoo practice or about the religion itself. The title of “Mamanita,” Morton's “Spanish tinge” piece dedicated to her, is suggestive: voodoo worshipers commonly use the prefix “Mama” when they address a priestess, or mambo. Anita had living proof of the connection between Catholicism and voodoo in the person of Laura, who was Jelly's godmother. Anita's relationship to Jelly touched virtually every aspect of his life.

Keywords:   Jelly Roll Morton, Anita Gonzales, voodoo, Laura Hunter, Mamanita, Catholicism

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