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Teagarden, Norma (1911–1996)

Cheryl L. Simon Biography Entry

Norma Louise Teagarden, jazz pianist, was born in Vernon, Texas, on April 28, 1911. She was the daughter of Charles and Helen (Geinger) Teagarden. The family patriarch, Charles Teagarden, died in the 1918 flu epidemic, and his wife Helen was left to raise her four children. At the age of fifteen, Norma went to work in a telephone office to help earn income for the family. Norma studied piano with her mother and often performed with her brothers Jack, Charlie, and Cubby.

She started her career in music in Oklahoma City around 1926. In 1929 she married Houston Bogan. She moved to New Mexico in 1929 and played in various "territory" bands until 1935, when she moved back to Oklahoma City and started her own band. After her divorce from Bogan, Norma married Charles Edward Gilruth in 1938. She moved to Long Beach, California, in 1942 and again led her own band. From 1944 to 1947 and from 1952 to 1955, she toured with Jack Teagarden's band. When she was not leading her own band or performing with her brothers, she worked with such jazz greats as Ben Pollack, Matty Matlock, Ada Leonard, Ted Vesley, Pete Daily, and Ray Bauduc.

Norma Teagarden married John Friedlander in 1955 and settled in San Francisco in 1957. She remained active on the traditional jazz scene, playing alongside jazz artists such as Turk Murphy, Kass Malone, Dick Cary, Fred Greenleaf, Walter Page, Carl Kress, Pee Wee Russell, Edmond Hall, Jimmy McPartland, Leonard Feather, Kenny Davern, and Eddie Condon. In 1963 she joined her brothers Jack and Charlie and her mother at a recorded performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival. In the 1970s and 1980s Norma taught piano and played periodic engagements in San Francisco, most notably the Washington Square Bar & Grill. In 1983 she was honored as "Empress of Jazz" at the Sacramento Dixieland Jubilee.

Norma's piano can be heard on Eddie Condon's Town Hall Concerts, Volume 7 (1944) and Jack Teagarden's Meet Me Where They Play the Blues, Jazz Great, and Club Hangover Broadcasts (1954), 100 Years from Today (1963), Big T Jump (1995), Jack Teagarden 1944–1947, and (the second) Meet Me Where They Play the Blues (1999). Norma Teagarden Friedlander died of cancer in California on June 5, 1996.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Whitney Balliett, American Musicians: 56 Portraits in Jazz (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). Chuck Huggins, "Norma Teagarden," Riverwalk Profiles Online (, accessed January 20, 2009. Roger D. Kinkle, The Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz: 1900–1950 (4 vols., New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1974). George and Shirley Teegarden, Genealogy and Biographical Sketches of Descendants of Abraham Tegarden (, accessed January 20, 2009.


  • Music
  • Genres (Jazz)
  • Women

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Cheryl L. Simon, “Teagarden, Norma,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed March 06, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: