Drummie the Soprano


Ann Dummand-Grant as Patience

Ann Drummond-Grant is best remembered today with much affection for her performances with D'Oyly Carte as a CONTRALTO in the 1950s and her voice is also widely recognised for recording several of the MEZZO roles in the Martyn Green series of recordings in 1950 and 1951 which she DID NOT play on stage.

However, long before this she had been a principal SOPRANO with the Company in the 30s though no recordings are known to have been made of her in these roles, but a private 78rpm disc recording has recently come to light of her singing "Coming through the rye", accompanied by her husband-to-be Isidore Godfrey at the piano, which appears to be from the 1930s and which wonderfully shows off her beautiful dramatic soprano voice and reveals to us that her soprano timbre in the 30s is, surprisingly, remarkably similar to her mezzo and contralto voices of the 50s.

I have not had access to the disc itself, which is currently in a display cabinet at Melvyn Tarran's fine G&S 'museum' at Oak Hall Manor, Sheffield Park, Sussex, but this recording is taken from a cassette transfer somebody else made of the disc for Melvyn and it is difficult to say whether the problems heard here are directly down to the condition and nature of the disc or just problems with this particular transfer. (The transfer may also be responsible for the over-reverberant sound) Forgiving a skip at the start and some annoying surface noise, the actual recorded sound of Drummie's voice is a remarkably good and a real eye-opener.

Although undated, the recording was made in New York, and on the other side of the disc is a recording of Elizabeth-Nickell-Lean singing a song called "Moonlight", again with Goddie at the piano, so my guess is that the recording was made in 1937 when the Company were in New York with both these ladies in principal roles.

When I saw this disc on display I was in the company of Tony Watts, a professional in the record industry and expert on such recordings, who has offered this further information on this type of disc which strongly backs my theory that it was indeed made in the 1937 - "This privately recorded disc seems to have been made by one of the many small recording companies which proliferated in and around New York during the 'thirties and which not only provided a basic recording facility, but also cut discs of radio broadcasts which were then sold to the artists featuring in them. It seems likely that this rare example of Ann Drummond-Grant's singing during her days as a soprano was indeed recorded while the company was appearing on Broadway in 1937."