take the news to mother - the performers 

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George Jefferson Gaskin 

 (1863-1920) 

 Born in Ireland, Gaskin came to the US in 1880. The self-styled “Silver Voiced Irish Tenor” starting recording in 1891 making nearly 900 recordings until his recording career ended around 1905, when he returned to vaudeville.

 Gaskin, who recorded “Just Break the News to Mother” 36 times, chewed tobacco during recording sessions, and was known to expertly spit the juice into the throat of the recording horn.  

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Charlie (1927-2011) and Ira (1924-1965) Louvin (neé Loudermilk)  from Henagar, Alabama, on Sand Mountain in northeast Alabama, extended the 1930s brother duet tradition into the 1950s, with seamless, soaring vocal harmonies and flawless mandolin and guitar techniques.  They performed on the Grand Ole Opry and Capitol records from the early 50s through much of the 1960s. 

“Just Break the News to Mother” was recorded by both Carson Robison and Riley Puckett, but it was a 1934 Callahan Brothers record that inspired the Louvins to revive it on Tragic Songs of Life where the  “boys in blue” became the “boys in France,” and the early melody was replaced, but the moving battlefield death soliloquy remained.

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© 2020 by Henry Sapoznik

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