Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The blind twins of WWVA

Radio stations strive for something unique to hook listeners with. WWVA had a wildly popular blind singing duo named the Newcomer twins. Top that!
In the year 1925 in Jeanette, Pennsylvania, Maxine and Eileen Newcomer were born. They sadly lost their vision gradually by the age of four. But they were bright, and talented and despite their blindness, they did well in school. They learned to sing in harmony and in 1941, they got a contract with the radio station WWVA.
Today WWVA is just another news outlet. But back then the Wheeling, West Virginia based radio station was a force to be reckoned with. Their 50,000-watt signal could be heard clearly throughout the East Coast. Their Jamboree was known coast to coast as well as the Grand Ol' Opry as the place to go for country musicians.
The Newcomer Twins appeared on WWVA during the 1940's, and appeared on the station's live Jamboree many times. At the height of their fame, the Newcomer Twins received thousands of letters from fans throughout Appalachia. They were considered one of WWVA's biggest stars.

When the Newcomer Twins died in the 1980s in their belongings were found hundreds of homemade acetate records. These were live recordings of them on WWVA. since these are masters of live performances, each of these acetates are one-of-a-kind recordings by Bing Crosby and Gene Autry and Spike Jones and the Andrews Sisters; and acetate recordings of WWVA regulars like Len Clawson and Don McNeill and Elmer Squeezix. There were news reports of the World War II Japanese surrender; and of the wedding of England's Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. And every record was carefully labeled on the jacket as to its contents and the performer and the date of recording. and the kicker? It's all printed in Braille. The LPs are currently in the hands of the Country Music hall of fame in Nashville.
The girls had purchased a Presto disc cutter, and had been quietly making records for decades. http://members.aol.com/clctrmania/cm-newcomer.html
More WWVA history here:http://members.aol.com/jeff99500/wwva.html
There are two MP3s of them singing here: http://www.lexpages.com/weirdrecords/weirdrecords.html

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