Carrie Jacobs-Bond (August 11, 1862 – December 28, 1946)
Alongside a large catalogue of popular music which delighted both audiences and fellow musicians, Carrie Jacobs-Bond is perhaps best remembered (and rightly celebrated) for having overcome tremendous hardships, tragedies and professional difficulties. She would eventually become the most successful female composer in her field and managed to combine this with a career as an internationally-renowned singer.
Born in Janesville, Wisconsin, she benefited from having a very musical family. The young girl’s childhood home was filled with song and, whilst at first she received no formal musical education, she soon developed a wide range of musical abilities. Most notably she could accurately reproduce music (by singing or playing the piano) on just a single hearing. A popular story goes that she, at the age of just eight, had learned to play Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody no.2 by hearing it alone.
Although she began to take music lessons shortly afterwards, the family were about to face difficult times. Her father’s death led to financial hardship which affected her teenage years. She married aged 18 but this rather unhappy relationship soon ended in divorce, leaving her a young single mother. A second, happier marriage was cut short by her husband’s death in 1895.
She pursued her musical career with a move to Chicago and, although her songs and other parlour music proved popular, she struggled to gain attention and respect from the male-dominated industry of music publishing. She eventually established her own publishing business, and sales of her sheet music heralded great success.
Musical Style and Influences
Her music appears to have been influenced simply by taste and musical fashion of the day. As a popular singer she travelled widely and gave countless performances in private homes and community centers.
This allowed the opportunity to adapt her compositions to the desires of her audiences, as well as slowly establish her songs as ‘everyday’ music.
What was Carrie Jacobs-Bond Known For?
The Music of Carrie Jacobs-Bond
She became the first female composer to earn one million dollars, doing so through a series of successes. In particular, her “A Perfect Day” is a parlour guitar arrangement which has stood the test of time and is still popular today. “I Love You Truly” together with “Just Awearyin‘ for You” are also among her biggest hits. Song collections had charming and alluring titles such as “Seven Songs as Unpretentious as the Wild Rose” (1901) and “Little Kitchen Songs and Stories” (1911).
She composed close to 180 pieces of music, and her simple yet pensive and affectionate musical style won the hearts of millions. She performed with Enrico Caruso in England, for US troops in Europe during the first World War and for President Roosevelt at the White House.
Carrie Jacobs-Bond Most Famous Works
Although tragedy struck again with the suicide of her son in 1932, her life and music is best remembered for the immeasurable joy it has brought to so many.
After her death in California in 1944 the Los Angeles City Council honored her as “One of America’s greatest women.”