“America’s Sweetheart of Song” was the appellation given to Ruth Etting, one which she truly deserved. Etting rose to prominence in the middle of the Roaring Twenties, appearing in Ziegfeld Follies. Marrying a gangster, falling in love with another, and becoming one of the most popular singing stars of stage, screen, record, and radio until she left the limelight in the late 1930s, going on to enjoy a long retirement thereafter. Her sweetly feminine vocal styling charmed a generation of listeners, and continue to impress those who have the fortune of hearing her recordings to this day.
Ruth Etting was born November 23, 1897 in David City, Nebraska, daughter of Alfred and Winifred Etting. After her mother died, when the young Ruth was five, she was sent to live with her grandparents, George and Hannah. Growing up, Ruth dreamed of becoming an artist, and spent her hours drawing and sketching whenever and wherever she could. Hoping to become an illustrator, Etting left home to attend an art school in Chicago. Taking a variety of jobs while in Chicago, Etting was eventually asked to fill in for an ailing vocalist at a nightclub, and she obliged. Having never been schooled in voice, Etting lowered her naturally high soprano as she began singing professionally. She claimed her style to have been influenced by Marion Harris.