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Vaughn De Leath


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De Forest Meets De Leath


This recording was made in New York City on November 14th 1921 by 1920's radio star Vaugn De Leath.

In January 1920, the inventor and radio pioneer, Lee De Forest brought Vaughn to his studio in New York City‘s World Tower, where she sang “Swanee River” in a cramped room. Most radio listeners at the time were only equipped with crystal radio, which limited audio fidelity. This performance is sometimes cited as the first live singing broadcast (although this is disputed by some historians). According to some historical accounts of this incident, having been advised that high notes sung in her natural soprano might shatter the fragile vacuum tubes of her carbon microphone’s amplifier, De Leath switched to a deep contralto and in the process invented "crooning" which became the dominant pop vocal styling for the next three decades.

By 1921 in the formative years of commercial radio, De Leath began singing at W.J.Z. in Newark, New Jersey (a station later known as W.A.B.C. in New York City). She also performed on the New York stage in the early to mid-1920's, but radio became her primary medium and she made a name for herself mainly as a radio entertainer.

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