Ruth Welcome

Ruth Anneliese Welcome (April 24, 1919 – March 6, 2005)[1] was a German-born American zither player. During her 30-year career (1945-1975) she distinguished herself as America's only professional zitherist, and, as a recording artist for Capitol Records, producing 18 albums and several singles.

Ruth Welcome
Born(1919-04-24)April 24, 1919
Germany
DiedMarch 6, 2005(2005-03-06) (aged 85)
Peoria, AZ
GenresEasy Listening, Light Jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, Recording Artist
InstrumentsZither
Years active1953–1975
LabelsCapitol

Background and CareerEdit

Welcome learned to play zither as a child, and was familiar with the instrument at age 8, when in 1927, her family emigrated to the United States and settled in New York City. There she took lessons on piano and zither, and upon graduation from high school she was accepted at the Juilliard School of Music, where she studied piano and violin; she later taught piano at the School for several years.[2]

During the second world war she joined the USO and entertained troops overseas, finding the zither more portable than the piano, and more suitable for solo work than the violin. After the war she continued to volunteer in military hospitals for several years.[3]

In 1949 Anton Karas' theme music for the British film noir The Third Man had a vogue in the United States, and reintroduced the sound of the zither to an American public which hadn't paid it much notice since the turn of the previous century. The popularity of Karas' zither-based score helped set the stage for Welcome's professional debut as a zitherist, in 1953. Her performance, in Manhattan's famous Hampshire House, was well-received, and she became a regular attraction there for the next five years.

At the end of her run at the Hampshire House, Welcome took her zither on the road, touring the US and Canada with such success, that Capitol Records signed her to an exclusive recording contract that same year (1957). She recorded eighteen zither albums for Capitol, which became popular all over the world, and started something of a "zither revival" in North America.[4] A number of manufacturers began producing concert zithers again in such numbers that today (2016) if you buy a used zither it is most likely to come either from the period 1895-1910, or from 1955-1965.[5]

Her first album, Hi-Fi-Zither, was released in 1958, and over the next fifteen years she recorded seventeen zither albums for Capitol, as well as a number of singles. Her repertory consisted primarily of standards and showtunes, in a style that came to be known as "mood music" or "easy listening" in the mid-1960s.[6]

Welcome retired from touring and recording in 1975, and relocated from Connecticut to Sun City, Arizona, where she spent most of the remainder of her life. She died in Peoria, Arizona, on March 6, 2005, and is buried in Sunland Memorial Park.[7]

During her career, Welcome recorded more zither albums than any other zither player. While the zither has again waned in popularity since the 1960s, Welcome's albums continue to sell briskly as collectors items, and several have been re-released on CD. In 2013 the Guardian released an article noting the continued popularity of her music on on-line sharing services such as Spotify.[8]

DiscographyEdit

Albums

Title Format Label Issue Number Date of Issue
Ruth Welcome, Dick Marta - Cafe Continental LP? Cook Laboratories, Inc. 10326 1950
Hi-Fi Zither LP, Album, Mono Capitol Records T-942 1958
Third Man Theme and other Zither Hits LP, Album Capitol Records DT-942 1958
Third Man Theme And Other Zither Hits (LP, Album, RE Capitol Records SM-942 1958?
Zither Magic LP, Album, Mono Capitol Records T-1279 1959
Zither Magic LP, Album, Stereo Capitol Records ST-1279 1959
Welcome To Zitherland LP, Album, Mono Capitol Records T-1471 1960
Welcome To Zitherland LP, Album, Stereo Capitol Records ST-1471 1960
Ruth Welcome and the Buffalo Zither Club LP, Album, Stereo F&B 1960?
Zither South Of The Border LP, Album, Mono Capitol Records C-80204 1960
Zither South Of The Border LP, Album, Mono Capitol Records, Codiscos Mundial C-80204, T-1397 1960
Zither South Of The Border LP, Album, Mono Capitol Records T-1397 1960
Zither South Of The Border LP, Album, Stereo Capitol Records ST 1397 1960
Zither In Three Quarter Time LP Capitol Records T 1318 1960
Romantic Zither LP, Mono Capitol Records T-1527 1961
Romantic Zither LP, Album, Mono Capitol Records T 1527, T-1527 Unknown
Romantic Zither LP, Album, Stereo Capitol Records ST 1527 Unknown
Ruth Welcome And Klaus Ogerman's Orchestra - Carnival LP, Album, Stereo Capitol Records ST 1551 1961
Zither Goes West LP, Mono Capitol Records T 1672 1962
Zither Goes West LP, Stereo Capitol Records ST 1672 Unknown
Christmas In Zitherland LP, Stereo Capitol Records ST 1782 1962
Latin Zither LP, Mono Capitol Records T 1863 1963
Latin Zither LP, Stereo Capitol Records ST 1863 1963
Zither Goes Hollywood LP, Mono Capitol Records T-1986 1963
Zither Goes Hollywood LP, Stereo Capitol Records ST-1986 1963
Sentimental Zither LP Capitol Records ST 2064 1964
The Concert Zither LP, Album, Mono Capitol Records P 8602 1964
Ruth Welcome And The Milt Shaw Trio - At A Sidewalk Cafe LP, Album, Mono Capitol Records T 1209 1964?
Ruth Welcome And The Milt Shaw Trio - At A Sidewalk Cafe LP, Album Capitol Records ST 1209 Unknown
Continental Zither LP, Album, Mono Capitol Records T 2472 1965?
Continental Zither LP, Stereo Capitol Records ST2472 Unknown
Sounds Of The Time - Cafe Continental LP, Cle Cook 10326 1966
Zither In 3/4 Time LP, RE Capitol Records ST-1318 1967

Singles & EPs

Title Format Label Issue Number Date of Issue B-Side
Ruth Welcome, Dick Marta - The Zither / The Cimbalom 10" Cook 1032 Unknown n/a
Themes From "The Third Man" 7", Single, RE Capitol Records 6086 Unknown B: Song From Moulin Rouge (Where Is Your Heart)
Allison's Theme 7", Single Capitol Records 4562 Unknown B: Hank's Tune
Ruth Welcome Con El Conjunto De Earl Shelton 7", Single Capitol Records CC - 3303 Unknown B: Welcome In Colombia

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Social Security Death Index
  2. ^ Ruth Welcome
  3. ^ Fitzpatrick, Rob (September 4, 2013). "The 101 strangest records on Spotify: Ruth Welcome – Romantic Zither". theguardian.
  4. ^ Bundy, June. "Diskeries' Talent Search Make for Artists Market", Billboard, 20 May 1957.
  5. ^ Musical instruments and their history: the Concert Zither …
  6. ^ Lanza, Joseph (1994). Elevator Music: a Surreal History of Muzak, Easy-Listening, and Other Moodsong. St. Martin's. ISBN 0-312-10540-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  7. ^ Ruth Anneliese Welcome Obituary
  8. ^ Fitzpatrick, Rob (September 4, 2013). "The 101 strangest records on Spotify: Ruth Welcome – Romantic Zither". theguardian.