Event Title

Ethel Merman: The Effect of "Belt" on the Broadway Musical

Location

King Building 323

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-29-2016 4:00 PM

End Date

4-29-2016 5:15 PM

Abstract

The presentation will address the impact of Ethel Merman’s “belting” voice on musical theater. On October 14, 1930, Merman’s song in the Gershwin brothers’ Girl Crazy actually stopped the show, not allowing it to continue until Merman performed 16 encores. My thesis will explore events leading up to that moment, as well as the effects of Merman’s voice on the Broadway musical that set musical theater on the path to where it is today. Although the verb “to belt” as it relates to singing did not emerge until the 1950s, Merman is still credited as bringing the sound to Broadway.

Notes

Session III, Panel 13 - Deciphering Musical Codes: Studies of "Excess," Joy, and Jewishness
Moderator: Ben Geyer, Visiting Instructor of Music Theory

Major

Musical Studies

Advisor(s)

Fredera Hadley, Ethnomusicology
James O'Leary, Musicology

Project Mentor(s)

Ben Geyer, Music Theory

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Apr 29th, 4:00 PM Apr 29th, 5:15 PM

Ethel Merman: The Effect of "Belt" on the Broadway Musical

King Building 323

The presentation will address the impact of Ethel Merman’s “belting” voice on musical theater. On October 14, 1930, Merman’s song in the Gershwin brothers’ Girl Crazy actually stopped the show, not allowing it to continue until Merman performed 16 encores. My thesis will explore events leading up to that moment, as well as the effects of Merman’s voice on the Broadway musical that set musical theater on the path to where it is today. Although the verb “to belt” as it relates to singing did not emerge until the 1950s, Merman is still credited as bringing the sound to Broadway.