July 7 – Happy Birthday Olive Kline

Olive_Kline_in_1917_at_her_homeOlive Kline was one of the top radio and recording stars in America for a quarter of a century, from 1912 to the late 1930’s. She was born in Amsterdam on July 7, 1887 to Martha and Oliver Kline. Both her parents were musical and loved to sing. In fact, according to a concert program I found online, many generations of Ms. Kline’s family were singers, some of them rather well-known. Another interesting note about her ancestors was that if you traced her bloodline far enough back, it ran smack into Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation.

So perhaps it is fitting that Ms. Kline’s road to singing stardom began when she was just a teenager and was called upon to substitute in the choir of her Protestant Church one Sunday for another member who had fallen ill. By then, her family had moved to Schenectady (in 1897) because her father had taken a job with General Electric Co. If you’ve ever been a regular attendant at any church, you know the reaction when a new voice is heard singing from the choir loft. Everyone turns their heads to see who is making such a difference. Well on that particular Sunday in the Kline family’s Schenectady Church, Kline’s amazing soprano must have turned quite a few heads because just a couple weeks later, she was the featured voice in that choir.

From there her singing career was put on a fast train to Manhattan, where she became a paid soloist at several mainline Manhattan houses of worship and was eventually asked to make a trial record for Victor Talking Machine Company, which would evolve into the Victor Records Company. That was 1912 and that recording was so well received she was signed to a record deal and by 1914 she was a featured star on national tours sponsored by Victor.

Though her specialty was opera, Kline performed a wide range of music including Broadway tunes, religious hymns and popular songs of the day. Kline married Dr. John Hulihan in 1919 and made her last recording for Victor records in 1935.

She died in Pelham, NY in July of 1976 at the age of 89. You can actually watch an interview with Kline in which she recalls her start in the recording business and also listen to some of her actual records by doing a search on her name at You Tube.

(This Amsterdam sports legend was also born on July 7.)


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