About The Artist
Georgia Ann Davidson was born in Newport, Kentucky to Arthur and Mable Davidson.
Georgia Ann was given her first guitar at the age of 4 by her Uncle Fred Davidson. She taught herself how to play and at the age of nine years old, she did her first stage performance at The Felicity Therate in Felicity Ohio. Believe it or not, she still has that same guitar.
During the ensuing years up until she was 17, she played to audiences all over Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky in various clubs, theaters, fairs in the tri-state area.
Around this time she met Al Runyon during one performance on the Mid-Day Merry Go Round show. Al was impressed with what he heard and saw of this young talent and asked her parents if he could take her on a tour he was going to do at various United States Military bases around the world.
She did two USO tours with Al Runyon and his Westerners. Those tours took her to such places as Japan, Korea, Hawaii, Greenland, Iceland, Guam, Midway Island, Formasa and more. Her stage name back then was "Little Georgia Ann".
Georgia Ann says they did as many as five shows a day and in between them, they would be on the helicopter going to other outposts. If Al heard that there was a military troupe at an outpost that had not seen a show for months, he would make arrangements for his group to be there for our soldiers. She says that Al absolutely loved going to the hospitals to visit the soldiers who couldn't make it to their performances. Georgia Ann notes that these were not the 'hospitals' that we are used to now. These were what were called quanet huts. The soldiers were always very apprecitative.
When they performed at the far flung outposts for our soldiers, she recalls that tears would well up in all of their eyes. Al's group was a small USO troop of seven. Georgia Ann notes that the small size of their group had its advantages. It meant they could get in and out of places that the other USO group could not get into. They carried their own instruments and even set up the stage they performed on. She says it was hard work, and nothing glamorous but it was well worth it.
Georgia Ann remembers that every time they would walk out on stage in front of their audience of soldiers, they considered it an honor. She said they really didn't need to do anything but keep it fresh. And it was easy to keep it fresh by just walking out on stage and they would see how happy our soldiers were to see the entertainers. She relates that when they would walk out onstage and before they even hit a chord or a note, the soldiers would go crazy applauding. She says the soldiers didn't even know if they were even going to be good or not; they were just happy to see Americans from home.
We asked her how her parents reacted to her going on these long, distant tours with a group of musicians. The thought was that as Al watched out over her, and they could trust him with their baby and she could go. You see, Al was also Georgia Ann's s music teacher and had become very good friends with her parents. She says Al was like her second father.
In fact, Al gave her a fatherly lesson in finances when they were overseas in Japan on one of the tours. She also learned about slot machines at the same time. She said every Monday they would get their per diem of $49.00. Back then, she did not know what a slot machine was and she thought the slot machine was the best thing going. She kept putting quarters in it, trying to match the fruit up in a row as those of us who have every been to Las Vegas have tried to do. After some time went by she inevitably ran out of money, her whole week's per diem. She went to see Al and told him "I'm out of money."
Al told her, "Well, little one, what did you do with your money and why are you out of it? She said, "I was playing with this machine." He promptly made her take him to this machine and show what kind of machine it was. Al probably shook his head and said, "Little one, I don't know what to tell you. You have a place to sleep. We will eat at the officers club. You will get paid again the following Monday."
She says that was her first lesson about money and slot machines.
One of Georgia Ann's favorite memories was when they visited an NCO club in Japan. They had not even done a show yet but the NCO's heard that they were in town. They wanted to know if Al's group would come and do a show for them. She says it was something like you would see on the old MASH television show. There were perhaps 50 people or so. But as small as that crowd was, she says they had a blast that night. So much so, they ended up playing all night long. She says that was one of the best times on the tour that she had. They were having so much fun that a few of the officers wanted to come in but the NCO's said no, this is an NCO club. The name of that NCO club was "The Texas Club".
There was one very nerve wracking incident in their travels on the USO tours. It occurred when the group was traveling from Honolulu to Japan. They were almost to the point of no return when one of the engines went out. Keep in mind, these were "prop planes", not the jets we have today. The pilot announced they would have to turn around and return to Honolulu. They did make it back to Hickam Air Force Base. As they landed, the second engine went out. She heard an officer on the flight say to another passenger had they not been experienced pilots they would have never made it back. Georgia Ann says flying on "MATS" or Military Air Transport Service was another eye-opening learning experience.
After she returned from her USO tour, her mother and father decided to move to Florida around 1959. It was in Florida that she met her future husband, Victor Chiaia. They were married in 1961. In 1962, they began their family with the birth of daughter Monique. In 1964, another daughter, Shiela was born. Georgia Ann decided at that time her musical career had to go on the shelf as she wanted to devote her time to raising her family.
She may not have continued to sing professionally, but her daughter tells us she still pulls out that old guitar and bust it out from time to time. She always let her daughters listen to whatever music pleased them and as loud as it might be. Monique notes that their mom turned them on to some great music over the years. You can feel the pride they have for Georgia Ann.
Credits & Sources
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