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James Melton

James Melton in a 1940s studio portrait

James Melton (January 2, 1904 – April 21, 1961), a popular singer in the 1920s and early 1930s, later began a career as an operatic singer when tenor voices went out of style in popular music around 1932–35. His singing talent was similar to that of Richard Crooks, John Charles Thomas or Nelson Eddy.

Melton usually catered to popular music fans, singing romantic songs and popular ballads in a sweet style. He was born in Citra, Florida, where his parents grew melons and handled hogs.

In 1920, he graduated from high school in

External links

  1. ^ About Melton
  2. ^ Thompson, Edgar A. (August 1, 1941). "Riding the Airwaves". The Milwaukee Journal. p. 2. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 


He established the Autorama, an auto museum in Hypoluxo, Florida. Ken Purdy interviewed him on his collection and wrote a book about it. The museum's collection was dispersed after his death. Melton has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for radio and the other for recording. He died in New York City from pneumonia.

Later life

Melton spent the 1950s making records, singing in nightclubs, appearing on television, including Ford Festival (1951–1952) also known as The James Melton Show, and collecting rare automobiles. His last stage production was Sigmund Romberg's The Student Prince.

After voice training with Angelo Canarutto, Melton's operatic singing career took off in 1938 when he appeared with the Cincinnati Zoo Opera Company as Pinkerton in Puccini's Madama Butterfly and also with the St. Louis Opera Company as Alfredo in Verdi's La Traviata. In 1939, he sang Pinkerton for his debut with the Philadelphia La Scala Opera Company with Annunciata Garrotto as Cio-cio-san. He worked with the Chicago Civic Opera from 1940 to 1942, appearing with Helen Jepson in Madama Butterfly, with Lily Pons in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, with Risë Stevens in Mignon and in Flotow's Martha. On 7 December 1942, Melton debuted at the Metropolitan Opera as Tamino in Mozart's The Magic Flute. He continued to perform at the Met through 1950.


Although not distinguished as a dramatic actor, he also appeared in movies, including Stars Over Broadway (1935), Sing Me a Love Song (1936), Melody for Two (1937) and the MGM revue, Ziegfeld Follies (1946).


In the thirties, Melton also sang and acted on the Jack Benny Radio Shows.

Melton continued to perform on the radio. He was heard on The Firestone Hour in 1933, on Ward's Family Theater in 1935, The Sealtest Sunday Night Party (1936), The Palmolive Beauty Box Theater (1937), The Song Shop (1938), the Bell Telephone Hour (1940), Texaco Star Theater (1944) and Harvest of Stars (1945). In 1941, a newspaper columnist described Melton as "currently one of radio's busiest singers."[2]

Melton recorded his first songs under his own name for Columbia in the autumn of 1927. He quickly became a popular singer and made numerous vocal recordings as well as singing vocal choruses for dance records. By 1931, the Great Depression along with the rise of conservatism and a religious revival initiated a movement to more masculine sounding voices in popular music. Singers such as George Gershwin in 1934.

The following year, he began singing on New York radio for no pay. He joined "Roxy's Gang", a cabaret group led by Samuel Roxy Rothafel, who worked with the Sieberling Singers. He made records for Victor Records, singing as one of the tenors with The Revelers and for Columbia Records with the same group under the pseudonym of The Singing Sophomores. He frequently sang with popular singer Jane Froman and appeared with her in film as well.



  • Radio 1
  • Films 2
  • Opera 3
  • Later life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

in 1926. Atlanta's Orchestra in Francis Craig's teacher, Enrico Rosati. Melton also worked in dance bands, playing saxophone in a college jazz ensemble and performing with Beniamino Gigli from 1923 to 1927 before moving to New York where he studied with Nashville He received vocal instruction from Gaetano de Luca in [1]

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