Sunday, May 9, 2021

Ethel Gabriel, a rare woman in the record world, dies at 99

Ethel Gabriel, who is believed to have created thousands of records at RCA Victor over 40 years, many at a time when almost no women were doing that work on the major label, on March 23 in Rochester, NY. She was 99 years old.

His nephew, Ed Mauro, his closest relative, confirmed his death.

Ms. Gabriel began work at the RCA plant in Camden, NJ in 1940, while a student at Temple University in Philadelphia. One of her early jobs was as a record examiner – she would pull one out of every 500 records and listen to it to create flaws.

“If it was a hit,” he Told The Pooko Record In Pennsylvania in 2007, “I found out every note because I had to play it over and over again.”

She also had a musical background – she played the trombone and had her own dance band in the 1930s and 40s – and her skill set gave her greater responsibility, as well as an occasional role in shaping music history. She said she was on hand at a 1955 meeting in which Elvis Presley was signed by RCA executive Stephen Sholes, who was involved with Sun Records. He had a hand “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” Perez Predo’s instrumental hit in 1955 helped ignite a mambu craze in the United States.

April Tooker, the lead researcher of a documentary being made about Ms. Gabriel, may have produced or co-produced the album to the tune that, the lead researcher said, details were blurred early in her career. Ms. Gabriel often stated that she had produced some 2,500 records. Ms Tucker said Sony executives, who now hold RCA archives, had told her that the number could actually be higher, as contributions were not always credited.

In any case, Ms. Gabriel was in charge of the company’s budget line RCA Camden Records by the late 1950s, and was earning producer credits, something she did in the 1980s.

In 1959 he began listening to the “Living Strings” series, which included orchestral renditions of popular and classical tunes (“Living Strings Play Music of the Sea”, “Living Strings Play Music for Romance” and many more). Was released on Camden. The line soon changed to “Living Voice,” “Living Guitar” and other subsets and became a huge profit-generator for RCA – which was not, Ms. Gabriel said, the boss expected of Camden in charge What to do. A struggling label at the time.

He told The Express-Times of Easton, Pa. In 1992, “I’m sure that was a way to get rid of me.” “Well, I’ve created a multimillion-dollar line from which, imagined, programmed, and produced the whole thing.”

There were other profitable chains as well. Ms. Gabriel was particularly good at retrieving material from the RCA archives on albums that sold anew, as she did in the “Pure Gold” series. In 1983, he shared the Grammy Award for Best Historical Album for “The Tommy Dorsey-Frank Sinatra Sessions”. After leaving RCA in 1984, she was a vice president.

Yet, unlike the top male record executives of the era, he rarely made headlines. An audio engineer, Ms. Tucker, said she had never heard of Ms. Gabriel until she searched to see if she could find out who the first female audio engineer was. She brought Ms. Gabriel to the attention of Sound Girls, an organization that promotes women in the audio field, and soon Caroline Losenec and Christophe Gelfand, Documentary filmmakers were working on “Living Sound,” A film about him.

Ms. Losenek said in a phone interview that they were hoping to complete the documentary on Ms. Gabriel’s 100th birthday this November.

Ms. Losenek said that Ms. Gabriel had survived a difficult business through productivity and capacity.

“She knew who he would call when he needed a livelihood”. “She knew how to manage the budget. All gave him a measure of control. “

Many of Ms. Gabriel’s records fit a category often marginalized as lift music.

“Now it’s easy to look back at that music and say it was a type of thing,” said Ms. Losneck.

Towards the end of her career, as more women began to enter the field, Ms. Gabriel was an example and a mentor. Nancy Jefferies, who went on to work in the RCA cast and repertoire department in 1974 and had previously sang with The Insect Trust’s band, was one of those who learned from her.

“Being a woman and in those days was an ambition in a record company that did not count with most male executive staff, but I was fortunate to land in the A&R department at RCA Records, where Ethel was founded It was stated via email, “Ms. Jefferies, who went on to executive positions at RCA, Elektra and other record companies, should be countered.” “He had developed some deals while they were not particularly ‘hip’, generating a lot of income and financing some of the more speculative workings of the department. Lesson one: Make money for the company and they leave you Will give.

Mr. Mauro summarized his aunt’s career:

“She was an early success if not at the level of the playing field.”

Ms. Gabriel, interviewed by the Cincinnati Inquirer in 1983, was a brief description of a man’s ability to flourish in the world.

“I didn’t know I shouldn’t be anywhere else,” she said.

Ethel Nagy was born on 16 November 1921 in Milmont Park, Pa., Near Philadelphia. Happened in. Her father, Charles, who died when she was a teenager, was a machinist, and her mother, Margaret (Horvath) Negi, created ceramic sculpture later in life.

Ms. Gabriel studied trombone in her youth and formed a band, Ann (her initials) and her Royal Men, which played in the Philadelphia area. While at Temple she began working at RCA and put labels on records in nearby Camden and packed them before advancing to the record examiner.

After graduating in 1943, Ms. Gabriel continued her studies at Columbia University and worked in the RCA offices in New York, including the secretary of Herman Diaz Jr., who headed the Latin Division of RCA. He spent a lot of time listening to studio sessions, and by the mid-1950s trade publications referred to him as an “RCA Victor executive”.

In 1958 she married Gus Gabriel, who was in music publishing. The couple counted Frank Sinatra as a friend. In a 2011 interview with The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, she said that in 1973, when her husband was dying in a hospital, she walked into her room one day and found her family in an affair.

“I asked, ‘What’s wrong?’ “He said, ‘Oh, everyone got autographed photos from Sinatra!”

Ms. Geoffridge stated that Ms. Gabriel had always consulted women in the company, even if they were on the corporate ladder. But his hand was extended to help the men, as well, as producer Warren Schütz found that when he joined RCA in the mid-1970s, a wave of disco was on.

He had an idea for an album that could catch that wave, he said, and he came up with $ 6,000 to make it. It was performed by the Brothers and included a song, “Are You Ready For It”, which became a dance floor staple.

“So Ethel originally started my life at RCA,” Mr. Shutz said in a phone interview. Soon she was the vice president of A&R, and she was reporting to him.

“Whatever he wanted to do, I’d just say yes,” he said. “She was so calm, and so knowledgeable, and so self-sufficient.”

Ms. Gabriel left RCA in 1984, in part, at the insistence of Robert B. Anderson, a former US Treasury Secretary, Who convinced him He received his retirement package – more than $ 250,000 – so that he could invest in the hope that the proceeds would finance future music ventures. The money disappeared, and Mr. Anderson, Who died in 1989, Was later convicted of tax evasion.

Ms. Gabriel lived in Coconus to be close to Mr. Mauro and his family for several years before moving to a care center in Rochester. As he died in a hospital there, Mr. Mauro said, the staff’s Sinatra songs were playing in his room.

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