Times-Picayune, Jan 6, 1935
“’Blending’ Termed Secret of Boswell Trio’s Success”
Sisters Pitch Voices Unusually to Sing as a Unit,
by James H. Gillis
The secret of the success of the Boswell Sisters came to light Saturday in New Orleans, home of the famous radio trio.
“Blending, that explains it,” said Martha Boswell, eldest of the sisters, as she munched a sandwich at a New Orleans hotel café Saturday afternoon while Connie was at the race track and Vet was having her fortune told.
With that one word “blending” Martha Boswell explained how the three sisters, who are stopping over in New Orleans for several days en route from a 13 weeks’ engagement with Bing Crosby in Los Angeles to New York, emerged from the dark days in 1929 when they only had 40 cents between them to the heights of radio stardom.
“I’ll explain it as simply as I can,” said the eldest sister. “If we sang according to orthodox musical traditions, Vet would be the high voice or soprano, I would be the middle or alto, and Connie would be the low or contralto.”
“But we don’t sing in the orthodox musical way,“ Martha Boswell continued. “Instead, when we sing as a trio we achieve an unusual and unorthodox effect by deserting our own particular tone and singing in another tone. We call that blending.
“If you know anything about music, for example, you know that a soprano is rarely about to hit a low “C” note effectively, but Vet can do that when we sing as a unit thereby producing an effect which is out of the ordinary and which accounts for our own peculiar type of individuality.
“Blending and cross-blending of voices achieve by a desertion at various times of the tones in which we would normally sing is an important factor in the production of the thing you have heard called “Boswell Rhythm,” Martha Boswell explained.
“This blending,” the eldest of the trio continued, “takes varied forms. Sometimes all three of us will strike a crescendo in the same tone. At other times we achieve a cross blending effect as when the soprano sings contralto and the contralto sings soprano. If we sang out of tone separately it wouldn’t be so good, but doing together produces the blending effect that goes over.”
“All three of us depend on each other,” the quiet young woman in the gray coatsuit explained. “If one of us left the combination would be broken up.”
Asked if there was a romance in the life of any member of the trio which might break up the combination, Martha Boswell, without hesitation, replied:
“I may be able to tell you more about that six months or a year from now than I can today. I don’t believe in talking until you know what you are talking about. But I will say this, that I don’t believe in a career interfering with marriage if you find the right person. I intend to marry some day just like any other woman.
“All three of us are leading very conservative lives and saving our money. Some day we will retire from the radio entertainment business and our occasional vaudeville engagements. While something may happen to interfere with out plans, when that time comes we intend to return to New Orleans to spend the rest of our lives.”