Georgette Twain Sieff “Queen of the Banjo”
June 10, 1925 — January 4, 2016
Georgette Twain Sieff passed away in Reno, Nevada on January 4, 2016 at the age of 90 with her daughter at her side. Georgette was born June 10, 1925 in Martinez, Ca. to George W. and Cecilia Collignon. In her early childhood years, she and her parents moved to New York City where her parents were both stage actors and musicians with her mother also being a dancer. During this time, the family lived in a theatrical boarding house. Her parents used to take her to Coney Island almost every day. There were many wonderful stories she used to tell of this time. After a few years, the family moved back to the west coast and settled in El Cerrito, Ca. where Georgette went to school. During World War II, Georgette worked in the Richmond Shipyards painting the Liberty Ships. In the 1940’s, she worked as a switch board operator for the phone company. At a time, she also worked at Emporium Capwells in San Francisco to pay for her singing lessons. Georgette met Dr. Samuel Twain and they were married in 1949. Together, they had a daughter, Cecilia, who was born the next year. Georgette loved to sing and had a beautiful singing voice. She was studying to be an opera singer when she was stricken with bulbar polio which took away even her speaking voice. She then turned to making marionettes and joined the Puppeteers of America in 1952 (she maintained her membership until she passed). At this time, her father started to teach her the banjo since she no longer could sing. She practiced many hours on the plectrum banjo. She studied with a few fine teachers. One day, she met the “King of the Banjo”, Mr. Eddie Peabody who gave her lessons and was her mentor. It was then that Georgette Twain became “Queen of the Banjo”. She had a fabulous career, appearing throughout the bay area and U. S. on stage and T.V. In the 1960’s, she played in Tahoe at Harvey’s for a few years. She also played the Nevada Circuit. She performed on Cruise Lines and for many years, the Fun and Snow Train. During these times, she had recordings and albums. She also taught many students the banjo – many of whom have kept in contact with her. A few years after her divorce from Dr. Samuel Twain, she met Leon Sieff, her daughter’s violin teacher. Leon and Georgette fell in love, but it took 32 years before they were married. Georgette and Leon moved to Gardnerville, Nevada in 2002. Georgette and her Daughter Cecilia Yale used to play music as a duo, Georgette with her banjo and Cecilia on Violin/fiddle. Georgette and Cecilia would play music throughout the Carson Valley and were regulars at Heritage Park, Gardnerville and Minden Park mostly during the 4th of July Celebrations. They also played their music throughout the country including All Frets Conventions. In 2007, Georgette Twain was inducted into the National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame. Georgette was a member of Puppeteers of America, All Frets, Musicians Union Local 6, East Bay Banjo Club, & was a Sacramento Banjo Band honorary life time member. She was San Francisco Giants fan and a fun loving person. Georgette was predeceased by her first husband, Dr. Samuel Twain, second husband Leon Sieff, and brother, John Cryan. She is survived by her daughter, Cecilia Yale, nephews, Art Twain, Ken Twain Dan Twain, David Twain and Matt Twain. Services will be Monday January 11, at 11:30 a.m. at Eastside Memorial Park in Minden. Walton’s Funerals and Cremations, Gardnerville, Nv. are entrusted with final arrangements. In lieu of flowers, one may make a donation in Georgette Twain’s name to the American Banjo Museum, 9 E. Sheridan Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73104.
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