Noted Writer, Broadcaster and Historian to Present a Talk on Love Songs of the Depression and World War II

Tuesday, October 29 at 7 p.m.

One of radio's main effects was the way it influenced singing and redefined audience's attitudes. It created crooning, and crooning shaped sexual attitudes in the 30s and 40s, and was especially important during WW II. Lasser will talk about music on the radio, crooners and the songs they crooned, and what that meant mainly for American women, primarily in the 1940s.

Commercial radio first appeared in the very early 1920s. KDKA in Pittsburgh generally gets credit for being the first station to go on the air in 1920, Evansville followed suit in 1924. Through the decade, a time of great change and expansion in the United States, radio was part of the story. All programming was live, and stations relied heavily on music even though there was not such thing (yet) as a disc jockey. Local singers and musicians found steady work, and eventually a new style of singing emerged, largely in response to the technology of the microphone and the recognition that a radio audience was different from a theater's and nightclub's.

In the theater, perhaps a thousand different people became a single entity, seated in rows in the dark, facing in the same direction, focused on a single lit individual onstage. That person – Al Jolson, perhaps – sang without a microphone but had to be heard in the last row of the balcony. The singer was life-size, but the singing was larger than life – expansive, flamboyant, large-gestured, assertive, often with some lingering rhetorical flourishes from the 19th century. Jolson loved to roll his r's.

But the thousand people listening to a singer on the radio remained a thousand distinctive people. The setting – each person's home – was distinctive, and each listener could behave as he or she wished: snuggled in the corner of a sofa, washing dishes, reading a newspaper and half listening, and so on. The singer had to reach only one person at a time and the successful ones soon came to recognize the importance – and the power – of the microphone and the medium itself. Over the course of the decade, singing changed. It became quieter, less formal and more conversational in style, and even the voices changed because people soon came to prefer a singer like Gene Austin or, by the end of the decade, Bing Crosby to Jolson. More women than men were listening to these singers, so the style within this new kind of singing – crooning – soon changed. The first crooners had light, small, high voices, but soon the most popular of them had deeper, more ostensibly masculine voices. The singers, the songs, and the style were more romantic than ever, but what made them irresistible was their inseparable linking of singing and sex. Lasser's admission free talk is on Tuesday, October 29 at 7 p.m. in the Museum's Old Gallery.




Museum and LST 325 Planning Trip to Normandy for 70th Anniversary of D-Day

June 2014



In conjunction with the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landing at Normandy, France, the Evansville Museum in partnership with LST 325, Lifestyle Tours, and Collette Vacations, is planning a London- Normandy-Paris trip in early June of 2014. Travel with us as we visit the historic Normandy coast exactly seven decades after LST 325 and thousands of Allied Forces made their fateful landings. We will tour sites at Normandy that recall and commemorate the places where many brave men gallantly fought in a battle that changed the course of the war.

On our trip, we will also spend time in London and Paris. We will visit many of the iconic sites that have made these cities famous as we traverse streets that have experienced centuries of history.  

More details of this trip will be available in the ensuing months. Please visit the Museum’s website for updated information and mark your June 2014 calendar to participate in this meaningful tour.