produced by Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey; performed by Will Oakland, 1880-1956 (Archeophone Records, 2008), 36 mins, 14 page(s)

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Field of Interest
American Music
Content Type
Music recording
36 mins
Recording Engineer
Richard Martin
Sub Genre
Song, Documentary
Archeophone Records
Page Count
Will Oakland, 1880-1956
Richard Martin, Meagan Hennessey
Date Recorded
Release Date
In 1954, Will Oakland recorded a commemorative LP that looked back on his early years in the music industry. The ultra-rare LP was not sold commercially; it was only meant for friends and colleagues. But in 2009, the album finally became available commercially when Archeophone obtained a copy from historian Allen G. Debus and re-released it as the 36-minute CD Jubilee -- and it isn't hard to see why Archeophone was so excited about making Jubilee available to the public. This is truly a fascinating listen. One hears Oakland, at 71, discussing his contributions to pop's pre-crooner years and playing snippets of acoustical recordings from 1909-1914; many are solo performances, although Oakland performs duets with Billy Murray (another major star of traditional pop's pre-crooner decades) on "Just for Tonight" and "Evalyne" and is part of the Heidelberg Quintet on "Emmet's Lullaby." Not all of the music on Jubilee was recorded in the 1900s or 1910s, however; two television performances ("The Sunshine of Your Smile" on Herb Shriner's show in 1953 and "Danny Boy" on George Jessel's show in 1954) give listeners a rare chance to hear Oakland singing into an electric microphone (as opposed to an acoustical horn) in hi-fi mono -- and those television appearances demonstrate that Oakland's voice had held up well over the years. Jubilee has a very nostalgic quality, which isn't surprising when one considers that in 1954, Oakland (who died two years later in 1956) was a survivor of a bygone era. In 1954, the crooners had long since become traditional pop's dominant voices; Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Vic Damone, and other Bing Crosby-influenced crooners were huge in 1954, and Oakland represented a vocal style that had been considered old-school since the Great Depression. But for the World War I generation, Oakland remained iconic, and it's certainly fascinating to hear the singer -- who was, according to Debus, born in 1883 (although others have said the year was 1880) and was old enough to remember horse-and-buggy times -- reminiscing about meeting Thomas Edison. Archeophone deserves major applause for making this historic album available on CD; Jubilee is essential listening for anyone with even a casual interest in vocal pop's pre-crooner stars. ~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide
American Music, Music & Performing Arts, American Studies, Vocal + Choral Music, Música Vocal y Coral, Música Coral + Vocal, Champaign, IL
Keywords and Translated Subjects
Música Vocal y Coral, Música Coral + Vocal

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