Thursday, May 24, 2007

Radio begets crooning

Yeah, no kidding. The singer Vaughn De Leath supposedly is the inventor of "crooning." A style of singing not beget by amorous cooing but instead a method of singing adapted to match the limited range of early radio equipment.

At the time the high notes hit by soprano singers often broken delicate transmitter tubes. Try to recall that at the time most radio listeners were using crude cat whisker crystal radio sets. She was compelled to sing in a soft voice, now called crooning so that no loud and or high notes would over-modulate and destroy the expensive and delicate transmitter power output tubes.

"According to Ben Gross of the New York Daily News, after her first broadcast, Vaughn received one of the first radio fan letters ever written; it read "You have inaugurated a new form of song which, no doubt, will become very popular." I understand her comp on Document Records is quality.

She was an early famous female radio jazz singer who gained popularity in the 1920s and became known as "The Original Radio Girl" and "First Lady of Radio". She was born as Leonore Vonderleith in the Midwestern town of Mt. Pulaski, IL in 1894. While at Mills College, she began writing her own songs, but later dropped out to pursue a singing career. Later she changed her name to Vaughn De Leath. Some Real Audio here:

She sang at 770 WJZ-AM (WABC today) In 1923, she became the first female executive to run a radio station, WDT-AM, along with a small network of power stations. She routinely appeared on the Wrigley Show during the mid twenties. In 1931, she appeared on an experimental television broadcast. That same year, she sued Kate Smith and won an injunction preventing Smith from using the "First Lady of the Radio" name. Smith laid off until Vaughn to croaked, then started right back up.

In 1922 she began recording on different labels, including Edison Records. But at the time Edison was transitioning from vertical cut discs to lateral cut recordings. Edison didn't' issue any lateral cut recordings until 1929. So much if thsi material was shelved, even as test pressings. In the mid 1970s these were rescued and finally released; 30 years after her death from complications sue to cirrhosis.