“To Miss Lucielle Browning – With all good wishes – of Gena Branscombe” inscribed on a piece of Gena Branscombe’s sheet music. Who was Lucielle Browning? An internet search offered information about Miss Browning. Lucielle was born Lucielle Raynor Brown on February 19, 1913, in Jacksonville, NC and died on August 8, 2011 in Florida.
With friend and poet, Arthur Stringer, the two New York based Canadians collaborated on a patriotic hymn written for the Royal Canadian Navy. “Our Canada, From Sea to Sea” (When Maples Leaves Turn Red) was published as a solo song and four part choral arrangement in 1939 by Toronto based Gordon V. Thompson, Limited.
When the music arrived I began
my research and what came next was an education as I had never heard of
Lucielle Browning. According to her
obituary, she received a full scholarship to Juilliard School of Music in 1932 and
went on to perform with Sigmund Romberg on the Swift Hour as well as working
with Andre Kostelanetz, Paul Whiteman and Wilfred Pelletier. Her opera debut was in Falstaff with Fritz Reiner conducting the production for the Philadelphia
How did Miss Browning happen to have Gena Branscombe’s songs with the inscription to her? Did she perform the two songs on her concerts? I don’t have the answers to the questions. Miss Branscombe was a constant self-promoter of her music. Instructing her publishers to send copies of songs to singers, the publisher encouraged performances of her songs. At home Gena kept a small inventory of some of her published songs. When meeting singers, their accompanists or their managers she would autograph and inscribe them, again in hopes of having a performance of her work.
Two songs added to my Branscombe sheet music collection and an introduction to mezzo-soprano Lucielle Browning. One day I do hope to learn even more about Lucielle, her life and career.