Roma Slaughter

16 Jul 1895 - Jan 1974

Gladys had one sibling, an older sister named Roma. She was married to a government official, Harold Slaughter, that was stationed in Italy, where she introduced her sister to the only American in the opera company, Frank Chapman.

Sep 1934 - Clinton Eye, Clinton, Henry County, Missouri

Gladys Swarthout is a Metropolitan Opera Star and Romah Teaches Singing in New York - Both Were Born in Deepwater - "At one time the business men of Deepwater seriously considered changing the name of the town to Swarthout, in honor of my daughter, Gladys, the metropolitan opera singer who was born in Deepwater," said F. L. Swarthout, of El Dorado Springs, who with his wife, greeting old friends at the Labor-harvest picnic in Deepwater. Although the plans for changing the name of the town did not materialize, it is an evidence of the high esteem and pride with which Deepwater regards her celebrated daughter.

Gladys Swarthout was born in Deepwater and lived there several years when a young girl. She went to Kansas City with her family and attended grade and high school, meanwhile taking vocal lessons, for early in life her lovely voice gave great promise. Mr. Swarthout, who is now a retired pullman conductor, made only a small salary in those days, but every sacrifice was made that his daughters, Gladys and Romah Lee, might have musical training. In Kansas City, Gladys Swarthout studied under one of the best teachers, but soon it was necessary for her to study under teachers with even a wider knowledge of voice, so her teacher sent her to the Clark Conservatory of Music at Chicago. The Swarthout family had found it difficult at times to finance the music lessons and felt they could not continue them at Chicago, but when the head of the Conservatory heard Gladys sing and visioned the fame and success that would be hers if she continued, he secured work for her to defray partly the expenses. After a four year course at this Conservator, Miss Swarthout was with the Vienna Opera Company at Highland Park, Chicago. At this time she was married to Harry Kerns of Chicago, who is general credit manager for the Hart-Schaffner & Marx Company, but she still retains her maiden name for the public, when she sings.

Today the lovely quality of Miss Swarthout's mezzo soprano voice has won her an enviable place in the musical world. she is the youngest singer in the New York Metropolitan Opera and has made more appearances than any other member. Her voice is heard in light opera over the radio each Monday and Tuesday night in the firestone and Palmolive programs. Her picture was published in the July Redbook and an article about her recently appeared in Coillier's, and many other accounts have been published of the life of the girl born in a small manufacturing town in the Middle West, who rose to metropolitan fame.

Frank Swarthout's other daughter, Romah Lee Swarthout has a studio in New York and teaches the Metropolitan stars, including her sister, Gladys. The first of August she gave a recital and and the critics predicted that Romah Lee will equal or surpass her famous sister. Romah Lee studied in Florence, Italy, two years after completing her studies in America. She is married to a World War veteran, Harold Slaughter. Mr. Swarthout is proud of the success his daughters have made but the world feels that much of this success is due to the financial assistance and encouragement which he gave to his daughters, for if he had not given it, they would not have reached even the bottom rung of success.

TIME Magazine in the Oct. 7, 1940 provided a report on the Chicago Woman's Symphony entering its 16th season. Described as one of the best woman's symphony orchestras in the U. S., their Sunday program entitled Design for Happiness (broadcast on the CBS network, 5-5:30 p.m. E. S. T.), had its season debut. The guests were Mezzo-soprano Gladys Swarthout and her sister, Roma Slaughter, a soprano and singing teacher.
This page was created and Copyrighted by Mark Swarthout, 2005
The last update to the page was on September 9, 2006
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