Elsie  Houston           (Marston 51011)
Item# V1911
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Product Description

Elsie  Houston           (Marston 51011)
V1911. ELSIE HOUSTON: Elsie Houston: Queen of Brazilian Song, incl. Songs by Villa-Lobos, Fernandez, Nin, Ravel, Nilvar, Jamblan/Herpin, Barlow, Alvaro Moreira/Hekel Tavares, Bandeira/Ovalle, Ovalle, etc. Marston 51011, recorded 1928-41, incl. de Falla's SIETE CANCIONES POPULARES ESPANOLAS, Unpublished RCA 1941 matrices, plus 7 Unpublished Liberty Music Shop titles. Transfers by Ward Marston. Final copies! - 638335101101


“Houston’s voice is usually described as a soprano, but that was only one of the many voices she used to capture the color of Brazilian music. There was the guttural voice she used to create the incantation in ‘Jongo’, the magic spell of Makumba. In her performances of the song, the lights were dimmed to nothing and in the dark, illuminated only by candles, she would play a drum while she chanted….Sometimes she would use her voice like a percussive instrument, usually in music that was driving and syncopated, typical of Afro-Brazilian rhythms. In this music we can hear her extraordinary rhythmic sense. But then, in the most intimate moments, she became a French diseuse (monologist), as she whispered ‘Mon ami!’

Houston made a series of recordings for New York’s Liberty Music Shop, only four of which were issued….the group provides a glimpse of the variety of her art, ranging from ‘Jongo’ and ‘Xango’….The three French songs have their moments. ‘Mon ami’, based on a simple scale, starts with casual insouciance, but as the scale rises the diseuse becomes more and more tormented until, at the last note, the performer is almost in tears because of her ‘ami’….Her recording of ‘Fado’ (Fate) is so despairing, as if it were the summing up of her life….[In 1943] she took her own life with an overdose of sleeping pills….There is enormous irony to her sad end, for had she delayed just a little, she would have received a check from Mrs. Bliss, the wealthy arts patron who lived in Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, where Houston had sung. Perhaps we will never know details…but what matters is that the world lost a great and unique artist.”

- Ed Blickstein with Gregor Benko, Marston Records