20th Century, History, music, Uncategorized

Andrews Sisters: Singing Sensations

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1941
The up-tempo harmonies of the Andrews Sisters (Patti, Maxene, and LaVerne) are some of the biggest hits on wartime juke boxes. The Minneapolis trio will sell 60 million records before LaVerne dies in 1967.*

“There were just three girls in the family. LaVerne had a very low voice. Maxene’s was kind of high, and I was between. It was like God had given us voices to fit our parts.” ** Patty Andrews Weschler 1971

““They sing too loud and they move too much.” ** Olga Andrews, the trio’s mother 1937

“The Andrews Sisters were an American close harmony singing group of the swing and boogie-woogie eras. The group consisted of three sisters: contralto LaVerne Sophia (July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967), soprano Maxene Anglyn (January 3, 1916 – October 21, 1995), and mezzo-soprano Patricia Marie “Patty” (February 16, 1918 – January 30, 2013). Throughout their career, the sisters sold over 75 million records (the last official count released by MCA Records in the mid-1970s). After the death of Patty in 2013, the new recount of the group’s total sales was 90 million records sold worldwide, making them the best-selling female group of all time. Their 1941 hit “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” can be considered an early example of rhythm and blues or jump blues. Other songs closely associated with the Andrews Sisters include their first major hit, “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (Means That You’re Grand)” (1937), “Beer Barrel Polka (Roll Out the Barrel)” (1939), “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar” (1940), “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)” (1942), and “Rum and Coca Cola” (1945), which helped introduce American audiences to calypso.” For a more comprehensive listing of their discography, please see link. ***

It is difficult to find closer harmonies than when family members sing together. There are some logical reasons for this: they share the same regional dialect and inflection, they have listened to the same voices to learn how to speak and therefore they share any unique vocal idiosyncrasies, and they have an intimate familiarity with each other personally. Perhaps this last point, knowing each other in a relational context, is the underpinning of a successful music group.

If one thinks of a successful music team over the past 100 years, be it songwriters, performers, or musicians, those that stick together make a long-lasting impact. Why could this be true? Music is a sport of the heart first, and the head second.

At least in much of the history of American pop music, we love those who touch us, not those who execute a series of notes perfectly. We seem to relate best to artists whose perfect imperfections and authenticity convince us of a genuine portrayal of emotion. As a musician and performer with 39 years experience, the author humbly offers this maxim; “If the artist believes in the song, the audience believes in the song”.

Now, we turn to You, and ask to observe this era of the Andrews Sisters with You. We thank You for Your creation called music. If we were born without ears, it would have been sufficient, but You chose to create this pleasure for Your glory and our enjoyment!

We recall that we live in a spoken universe. Let’s recount how many times You spoke, and then invented in the Creation story.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light…
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters, to separate the waters from the waters.”…
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered into one place, so that the dry land may appear.” And it was so…
11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants and fruit trees, each bearing fruit with seed according to its kind.” And it was so…
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to distinguish between the day and the night, and let them be signs to mark the seasons and days and years…
20 And God said, “Let the waters teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the sky.”
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, land crawlers, and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so…
26Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.”…
We see a clear pattern repeated six times as You created; You spoke and an act of creation took place.

Will You indulge my line of thought further, Adonai? Our greatest thinkers and scientists know much about Your universe, though many may not be able to even entertain these meditations. If the universe and the known elements are made of matter, then what is the commonality of all matter?

To my limited knowledge and recollection of science, all matter exists at a frequency. (See MIT video) ***** If this is true, then it would follow that all matter and known elements are a pitch or note value. Granted, this universal keyboard would be much longer than a piano and beyond the perceptions of our ears, but theoretically are tones.

Could this be, at least in part, an explanation of a spoken universe? Did the utterances of Your voice create the frequencies of the elements? Was it literally the note values of Your voice that created the musica universalis; the Music of the Spheres?

All this to say that no one can comprehend, or can make music like You! We love You for so many reasons, but today celebrate Your love of music. Will You guide us further?

We thank You for Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne! We thank You for their Greek father Peter, and their Norwegian mother Olga. We thank You that Minnesota was a place with conditions hospitable for their parents to fall in love. We thank You for the unalienable freedoms You have given all humanity, but were expressly codified in American law!

We thank You that these familial and regional flavors gave influence to the sound and excitement of the Andrews Sisters! We thank You that their first hit, “Bei Mir Bistu Shein”, helped familiarize our state and nation with Yiddish culture of lyricist Jacob Jacobs and composer Shalom Secunda.****

We thank You for their songs of tenderness that soothed the pains of the Great Depression, the heartaches of World War II, and the jubilance of the Baby Boom! We thank You for their example, though human, that sisters who worked together could create something great! Will You, in turn, bless the present and future musicians, artists, and performers of Minnesota in their artistry and in their families?

Lastly, we give You thanks for their interpretation of the universal language of music! We thank You for the good memories “spoken” to us through their music! We thank You that You ordained our universe of music, and that it helps us better know the universal music of the heart! Amen!
* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://ew.com/article/2013/01/30/patty-andrews-dead/
*** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Andrews_Sisters
**** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bei_Mir_Bistu_Shein

***** Zwiebach, Barton. “MIT 8.04 Quantum Physics I, Spring 2016”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_qvO8bKGus

 

 

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20th Century, authors, History, Immigration, Minnesota, Prayer

“Giants in the Earth” Published

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1927
Ole Rølvaag, a Norwegian-born professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, publishes Giants in the Earth, his brooding, epic novel of immigrant pioneer life. The book becomes a huge success both in Norway and the United States.*

“The infinitude surrounding her on every hand might not have been so oppressive, might even have brought her a measure of peace, if it had not been for the deep silence, which lay heavier here than in a church. Indeed, what was there to break it? She had passed beyond the outposts of civilization; the nearest dwelling places of men were far away. Here no warbling of birds rose on the air, no buzzing of insects sounded; even the wind had died away; the waving blades of grass that trembled to the faintest breath now stood erect and quite, as if listening, in the great hush of the evening….”

-Giants in the Earth, excerpt from Chapter II “Home-founding.” *

Rolvaag, named after his birthplace five miles from the Arctic Circle, was born one of seven children in 1876. He worked as a fisherman with his father and brothers for six years until he was recruited to be a farmhand in South Dakota at age twenty. After a few years, he went after his education graduating from: Augustana Academy in 1901, Saint Olaf both in 1905 (B.A.), and 1910 (MA). His rugged life experiences gave authenticity and realism to his recollections of the struggles of Norwegian pioneers in the Midwestern United States.**

We remember, with You, the plight of the pioneers from Norway to the Midwest. We remember that this earth is Yours, as well as all its peoples and resources, and that in Your forbearance You move them where You choose. So we give thanks for the example of these aliens, and that within their hardships of displacement that they were perfectly placed to thrive by the King of the Universe!

We give thanks to You for the life and extreme austerity experienced by Ole Rolvaag. He knew both the frigid waters of Norway’s Lofoten fishing area, and the burning sun of South Dakota. He battled the elements for the privilege to enrich his mind, and truly took in the discipline and lessons of both.

We recognize the tribulations of the Norwegian characters of “Giants in the Earth”, and reflect on their lessons for all peoples at all times. Each immigrant must wrestle the elements of his environment, a culture that is unfamiliar, and the loneliness for home. We also ponder the judgments of aliens against Your Sovereignty.

Will You forgive our ancestors their environmental judgments against their new home land? Will You forgive the thoughts and words this wave of Norwegians made in their attempt to tame the “amber waves of grain”? Will You forgive our judgments in this era of them? We have forgotten what pestilence means: losing whole crops to blight, grasshoppers, and fire.

Will You forgive Norwegian Americans their judgments and false assessments of their neighbors? They encountered foreigners, also from Europe, who though racially similar held no common culture or language. They met Native Americans who led migratory lives following the buffalo, again somewhat relatable to fisherman following their catch, but different. For all their cultural struggles we seek Your mercy and restoration.

Granted, these are stalwart, hearty people who endured much more than our present generations, but even giants have hearts of flesh. Because of Your kindness, will You forgive the inward struggles of these pioneers? It’s understandable that one would ask, “Who am I?” while at home, but even more so, “Who am I in this new place?” Will You forgive their sins of fear and doubt related to their identity stemming from Norway rather than the Maker of Norway?

We, like them, are displaced from the heritage of our Creator. Much of our travail is that our identity is based on geography, ethnicity, and culture, but these are comforting false gods. Will You give us an unshakable sense of place that can only come from the Cornerstone of the Universe and Your unchanging Word?

17″You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge. 18″But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing. 19″When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.…
Deuteronomy 24:17-19 NASB***

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ole_Edvart_Rølvaag
***http://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/24-18.htm

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