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Julia A. Hurt Johnson

She was born in Philadelphia, PA. She later died on 2-10-1995.
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Julia A. Johnson was a concert pianist and organist who taught and performed music in Buffalo for 72 years. The former Julia A. Hurt was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was brought to Buffalo, New York by her parents in 1903. She started to study music at the age of 6 under her mother Essie Hurt, a concert cellist, who had studied at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.

By the time she was 14, Julia was organist for First Shiloh Baptist Church and assistant organist for Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. She attended the former Fosdick-Masten High School. In 1918 she entered the Buffalo Conservatory of Music. Mrs. Johnson was the first black woman accepted to the Buffalo Conservatory of Music. In her second year at the conservatory, she was awarded the school's first scholarship in piano.

From 1931-41 she taught sight singing, voice, theory and piano through the federally funded programs. Through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) she organized a Vocation Chorus of 32 young black singers and directed the group in a BPO summer pops concert in 1941. In 1954, the Music Teachers Forum of Erie and Niagara Counties selected her to perform in the Steinway centenary concert with the BPO.

In the mid-1907s, she was music mistress at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Fort Erie, Ontario Canada. She also served often as an organist at St. Philip's Episcopal, Humboldt Baptist and St. Nicholas Catholic Churches.

She was a member of the Music Teachers Forum and American Guild of Organists.

Julia and her first husband, J. Luther Sylvahn, were divorced about 1935. Her second husband was pianist and jazz musician Ballard "Benny" Johnson who died in 1987. Ballard Johnson is buried next to his wife. Mrs. Johnson was 95 years of age at the time of her death in 1995. She is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery.