Sunday, September 25, 2011

One of the great things about writing this blog is the memories folks send me: of their parents performing in one, of being serenaded to sleep by a song from another. The fact that there's so little about the creators is a constant frustration... and then this appears in one's email box:

Searching on “Hattiebell Shields” recently, I came across your review of “The Palace of Carelessness.” I can tell you a bit about the authors. Hattiebell, Ivine and Laurene Shields were three sisters, daughters of George Shields, a Scottish immigrant, and Agnes Stoker, born in Ogden, Utah and the daughter of English Mormon immigrants. The girls had two brothers, Claude Lester Shields and John William Shields. My wife Bonnie is the granddaughter of John William Shields, thus the sisters are her great aunts.

The three sisters traveled on the Chautauqua Circuit, performing music. Ivine was operatically trained and made her debut at the Chicago Met and had a brief career. She also played piano. Hattie played cello; she also sang support vocals and played piano. Laurene did dramatic readings, sang and played piano. After their touring days, all three taught music, either privately or in the schools. They wrote several operettas for schools. We own “The Palace of Carelessness,” Station Cloudville,” and “Lindy: An Ode of Glorious Achievement.” My wife does not know if they wrote more operettas.

You are correct that there is little about them on the web. A search for “Shields Trio of Chicago” brings up a web page at the University of Iowa that contains their publicity brochure.

It was nice to see my Bonnie’s great aunts still mentioned. Thanks for posting your comment on their work.

Sincerely,
Bill Fenton

Here are the lovely ladies themselves. The back of the flyer notes:

The SHIELDS TRIO of CHICAGO INDIAN SKETCHES IN COSTUME A VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL PROGRAM Figure Figure Figure Figure The SHIELDS TRIO of CHICAGO Figure PERIOD COSTUME SELECTIONS READINGS AND DRAMATIC SKETCHES Figure THE SHIELDS TRIO of Chicago THE SHIELDS TRIO is an extremely attractive and unique organization. It is most unusual to find three such talented and attractive young ladies in one family. Each of these sisters is an individual artist, and the ensemble is altogether satisfying. These versatile and experienced entertainers offer a program of irresistible charm, consisting of dramatic sketches, and a variety of costume specialties including an Indian musical sketch, numbers in period frocks and hats, monologues and songs in various costumes. IVINE is a singer who has the rare gift of telling a story in song. Her clarity of enunciation and charm of personality captivate her audiences. She is also a pianist of ability. LAURENE is a dramatic reader of great talent, power and charm. She appeals to young and old as she draws from her large repertoire the humorous, the dramatic, the pianologue, etc. She is an excellent accompanist and singer. HATTIE-BELL, 'cellist, possesses a splendid technique and a lovely tone. She plays with equal skill and feeling the old favorites and the works of the masters. She is also an accompanist and joins in the ensemble singing. Figure THE SHIELDS TRIO of Chicago Press Comments from Here and There CHICAGO: Miss Ivine Shields, a singer whose work was exceptional from every viewpoint … splendid voice and dramatic style … won unstinted acclaim from the audience. She has good concert style and appearance … petite and very pretty … (Chas. E. Watt.) Hattie Bell, 'cellist … displayed a beautiful, full singing tone … played with manifest authority. Laurene elicited hearty laughs from the audience … showed great versatility … a charming personality, a musical voice and dramatic power. Ivine sings … with splendid style songs of the kind that require a singer who can project a story in song. This is her special talent. Laurene … as a picturesque Indian maiden … shows great dramatic power … exceeded our greatest expectations. Hattie Bell's 'cello solos delighted the audience. Miss Ivine Shields' enunciation is so pure that not a word went amiss—phrased correctly and scored heavily with her listeners. (Musical Courier.) ILLINOIS: Hattie Bell … showed wonderful technique and mastery of her chosen instrument … Laurene … an appealing personality and voice … true character interpretation … Downers Grove will welcome these young ladies again. The Shields Trio … a delightful program … enthusiastically received … (Wheaton). Laurene … voice capable of great variety of tone colorings … splendid portrayal of characters. (Wheaton.) Each of exceptional talent. (Lake Bluff.) UTAH: Laurene … excellent interpretation and delivery … great ability as reader and interpreter. (Ogden.) Ivine … sweet toned and excellently cultured soprano . . both a pianist and singer of ability. (Ogden.) Ivine … delighted and surprised a large audience … forced to appear after each number … beautiful renditions. (Salt Lake City) OHIO: Hattie Bell … wonderful technique and mastery of her instrument. (Fayette.) Hattie Bell … played with skill and feeling. (Elliston.) Figure DESIGNED AND PRINTED BY THE W. M. KING SERVICE, CHICAGO

Many thanks to you as well, sir.

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