I was interested to hear an interview with Janet Lind done in Australia in 1979 on YouTube recently. It may be heard at the following link: https://youtu.be/Wyz3T2Zj6YY
She started her career in Australia as an acrobatic dancer under her birth name of Reita Nugent. I heard from Stephen Langley who uploaded the youtube video and he gave me a link to a British Pathé video of Reita Nugent doing some amazing dancing in 1928. Indian Rubber Muscles (1928)
Stephen commented as follows:
Thanks for your most informative account of her life – your blog really does her justice and the clippings are most interesting. I believe she was an extraordinary artist, and I agree that her recordings with Webster Booth reveal a great artist and natural talent. It was I who supplied the 1978 interview sourced from a deceased estate and put it on my YouTube site.
I I remember her well as I used to purchase 78s off her in the early 1980s. By then she ran a small second hand shop ( op-shop) and was not in the best of health. Years of chain smoking and I suspect alcohol consumption had aged her considerably although she maintained her poise.
She arrived in England via a long-running show in Berlin in the 1930s. Without any vocal training and unable to read a note of music, almost by chance she began singing, and changed her name to Janet Lind. She did numerous broadcasts on the BBC, not only as a singer with the big band of Louis Levy, but also as an actress in a number of straight plays.
The songs featured in the YouTube broadcast are with Louis Levy’s brassy big band and she is remembered today primarily as a regular vocalist with this band.
1936. A letter in one of the Australian papers.
She also made several recordings with Webster Booth for HMV in 1936 and 1937, and these are very much more pleasing to my ear than the songs she sang with Louis Levy’s band. Despite her lack of musical and vocal training she had an excellent natural voice. Click on the link to listen:
She flourished as a performer in England in the last half of the 1930s, often singing songs made popular by Jessie Matthews. She was billed as “the girl with a smile in her voice”.
She returned to Australia in 1940 with her husband, Mr Hall.
I am not sure how long she continued her theatrical career in Australia, but by the 1970s she was living in Melbourne and running an op- shop – some people called it an antique shop; others were less complimentary about it. In her 1979 interview she had no trace of an Australian accent. Presumably that is why she took part in a number of straight plays on the BBC in the 1930s.
Stephen added: A friend of mine recalls buying a pile of 78s from her in the late 70s and she sheepishly said…’I am on some of those’… He didn’t believe her at the time and only realised later that she had been a star. I also recall sitting in the studio at 3CR ( as an observer) a few days after she died and there was a big tribute to her from those who knew her better than I . I have this on a cassette somewhere so may try and upload it too.
Despite her theatrical and vocal success in earlier decades, in old age she was casual and deprecating about her achievements. Many other singers who studied singing earnestly would have given a lot to have had such a successful career!
16 February 2018/updated 28 February 2018.