An Important Concert
By Reno Bailey
In the Cliffside News (a multi-page section in the Forest City Courier) on December 1, 1923, a very special concert was advertised.
Two prominent musical artists were to appear to a select, invitation-only audience at the school auditorium. These artists worked for inventor Thomas Edison, and were touring the country to promote and demonstrate his recently invented phonograph.
From 1919-1927, Young was a pianist and musical director for Thomas A. Edison. He functioned as a talent scout for Edison, making trips to Europe to seek out performers who could be potential Edison recording artists. He also made several solo piano recordings for the Edison company.It was during this period that Young came into contact with another Edison recording artist, soprano Helen Davis (later she was billed as a mezzo-soprano)
A year earlier, at the Gwynne Institute in Fort Myers, Fla., they had held a similar concert in which “Mr. Young stated that for years Mr. Edison had cherished a desire to produce a phonograph that would re-create the human voice,” and that he and Miss Davis were there to demonstrate to the audience the success of the invention, they to be the sole judge. He stated also that of all the instruments to re-create the most difficult was the piano, and the test would be more with the voice than with the piano.
Miss Davis’ first two numbers were: (a) “The Quiet Road” by Speaks, (b) “No Sir!” by Wakefield, and there it was; singing with records of her own making, blending perfectly without a perceptible difference, with the exception of the movements of her lips. She sang five more numbers with the phonograph. For a moment during one of the numbers the lights were turned off, and when turned on again there was no singer on the stage, but the effect was just the same, proving unquestionably that Mr. Edison almost had made the impossible, possible,—that of re-creating the human voice.
This was a big time program for this time period. It is more evidence that Cliffside was providing opportunities and entertainment equal to or exceeding that presented in cities of much greater size. During the first two decades of Cliffside, life was surely a time of great pride and enthusiasm.
The Cliffside News and notes provided by Phillip White. Fort Myers concert quotes from mwweb.org.