The first woman to achieve widespread acclaim as a professional recording star was Ada Jones (1873-1922) [audio], who was called “the first lady of the phonograph.” With her clear, strong voice and excellent diction, Jones was one of
the first women to successfully record on commercial cylinders and discs. Her repertoire included dialect sketches, conversational
duets, and comic songs. She and two other great vaudeville and musical comedy performers, Blanche Ring (1871-1961) and Nora
Bayes (1880-1928), though now generally forgotten, can be heard on these early commercial sound recordings.
Trumpet virtuoso Edna White (1892-1992) [picture], one of the few female instrumentalists in the early days of recording, is featured in a fascinating audio interview (RYA
0001) about her recording career with Thomas Edison. Eva Taylor (1896-1977), billed as “queen of the blues,” was another early
Edison artist whose recordings are in the collection.