Operatic contralto Louise Homer (Louise Dilworth Beatty, 1871-1947) was born this day. Homer was the daughter of Presbyterian minister William Trimble Beatty, founder of Pennsylvania Female College (now Chatham University). As is not uncommon she began singing in a religious setting. Deciding to embark on a secular career, she moved from her native Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and then to Boston.
Homer launched her singing career in vaudeville, at Keith’s Providence in 1895. Later she sang at the Bijou Opera House in Boston, also a vaudeville venue, in a show called Our Uncle Dudley with Marie Cahill and Frank Currier. In 1895 she married composer Sidney Homer and began studying music seriously. She was a principal singer with the Metropolitan Opera in New York from 1900 through 1919, although she continued to sing there as late as 1929. From 1909 through 1915 she was also a member of the Boston Opera Company. She also had a recording career, cutting several solo records as well as duets with the likes of Enrico Caruso and Alma Gluck. Louise Homer retired from performing in 1932.
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous