Marjorie Finlay

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Marjorie Finlay
Marjorie Moehlenkamp.png
Finlay in 1949
Marjorie Moehlenkamp

(1928-10-05)October 5, 1928
DiedJune 1, 2003(2003-06-01) (aged 74)
Alma materLindenwood College
Occupation(s)Opera singer, television personality
Robert Finlay
(m. 1952)
  • Andrea Swift (daughter)

Marjorie Moehlenkamp Finlay (October 5, 1928 – June 1, 2003) was an American opera singer and television personality. She is best known as the maternal grandmother of singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. A coloratura soprano, Finlay performed concert, opera, and supper club singing. After winning a talent contest in 1950, she toured on the ABC radio network show Music With the Girls. Finlay later had her own television program and served as an MC for El Show Pan-Americano in Puerto Rico. She toured South America and released an album in Mexico.[citation needed]

Life and career[edit]

Marjorie Moehlenkamp was born on October 5, 1928, in Memphis, Tennessee, to Elmer Henry Moehlenkamp of St. Charles, Missouri, and Cora Lee Morrow of Arkansas.[1][2][3] She was raised in St. Charles. Three of her paternal great-grandparents were from Germany.[4]

In 1948, Moehlenkamp performed at Mexico Senior High School as a soloist in the Lindenwood Vesper Choir.[5] She earned her Bachelor of Music from Lindenwood University in 1949.[6] Moehlenkamp was in Mu Phi Epsilon, a professional music fraternity.[7] She was a singer in the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's pop concert at Kiel Auditorium.[8]

Moehlenkamp in February 1950 after winning the ABC Music With the Girls talent contest.

In 1950, Moehlenkamp was working as a receptionist at Boatmen's National Bank in St. Louis. She won a talent contest on the ABC network show Music With the Girls.[3] This awarded her a radio spot and she toured on the network radio show for 15 months.[3] During the summer of 1951, Moehlenkamp studied at the Berkshire Music Center and then in New York City on the advice of musician Edwin McArthur.[8][7]

She married Robert Finlay, president of Raymond Construction Company, on March 22, 1952, in Palm Beach, Florida.[7][9] After her marriage, Finlay and her husband moved to Havana, Cuba, where his office was located before relocating to Puerto Rico due to political unrest. They moved to Caracas before returning to Santurce with their children. In Puerto Rico, Finlay had her own television program and performed in concerts, operas, and supper clubs, including a two-week stint at the Caribe Hilton Hotel.[10]

Finlay was the mistress of ceremonies for El Show Pan-Americano on APA-TV in Santurce.[8][10] She was active in the Pro Arte Societies, a civic music organization. Her Spanish was reportedly "bad" enough to be funny to her audiences. Her television show ran six nights a week for 17 months.[8]

In 1962, Finlay performed at a Kiel Auditorium Pop Concert. Her performance included "Fanciulla È Sbocciato L'Amore" from La rondine and "Jewel song" in addition to pop songs.[11]

Finlay died on June 1, 2003 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Finlay was the mother of Andrea Gardner Swift (née Finlay, born 1958), and through her was maternal grandmother of singer-songwriter Taylor Swift and her brother, actor Austin Swift. Taylor Swift cited Finlay for inspiring her to pursue a career in music.[2] In 2020, Swift released the song "Marjorie" from her ninth studio album Evermore; Swift credited her grandmother with backing vocals which were sampled in the track.[2][12] In 2022, Swift included a photograph of Finlay in the music video of "Anti-Hero."[13]

Awards and honors[edit]

Year Title Notes Ref
1949 $200 scholarship (equivalent to $2,278 in 2021) National music contest hosted by the magazine Music News and the Metropolitan School of Music in Chicago [14][6]
1950 Talent contest on the ABC network show Music With the Girls Winner [3]
1961 Outstanding graduate with a certificate of merit Given by her alma mater Lindenwood College [15][10]
1962 Honorary captain in the Puerto Rico Air National Guard Guardsmen nicknamed her "madrina" (godmother) [8][10]


  1. ^ "United States Social Security Death Index" – via
  2. ^ a b c O'Connor, Roisin (December 11, 2020). "Taylor Swift song 'Marjorie' is a tribute to her late grandmother". The Independent. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d "St. Charles Soprano Wins 1st 'Music With The Girls' Trials". The St. Louis Star and Times. February 27, 1950. p. 5. Retrieved December 11, 2020 – via
  4. ^ "United States Census, 1930". 1930 – via
  5. ^ "Concert Given By Lindenwood Vesper Choir". Mexico Ledger. April 17, 1948. p. 5. Retrieved December 11, 2020 – via
  6. ^ a b "Marjorie Moehlenkamp Wins Music Scholarship". The St. Louis Star and Times. June 10, 1949. p. 36. Retrieved December 11, 2020 – via
  7. ^ a b c "Moehlenkamp, Finlay Wedding in South Mar. 22". St. Louis Globe-Democrat. February 24, 1952. p. 35. Retrieved December 11, 2020 – via
  8. ^ a b c d e Brink, Margaret J. "She's a star in Puerto Rico". Globe-Democrat. St. Louis, Missouri.
  9. ^ "Margie - Parr of Puerto Rico". The St. Charles Banner-News. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d Goddard, Bob (January 9, 1962). "In Our Town". St. Louis Globe-Democrat. p. 30. Retrieved December 11, 2020 – via
  11. ^ "Pop Concert Sunday At Kiel". St. Louis Globe-Democrat. January 13, 1962. p. 26. Retrieved December 11, 2020 – via
  12. ^ Andaloro, Angela (December 11, 2020). "What Taylor Swift's Marjorie Is Really About". The List. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  13. ^ Olson, Samantha (October 21, 2022). "All the Easter Eggs In Taylor Swift's "Anti-Hero" Music Video". Seventeen. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  14. ^ "Marjorie Moehlenkamp is finalist in music contest" (PDF). Lindenwood College Bulletin. June 1949. p. 13. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  15. ^ "180 Lindenwood Graduates Will Attend Reunion". St. Louis Globe-Democrat. October 26, 1961. p. 16. Retrieved December 11, 2020 – via