Sault Legends: Doreen Hume

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Who would have known that the soprano singer that sang on recordings for the films Oklahoma, Carousel, The King And I, Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, The Cat and The Fiddle and South Pacific was from the Sault?

Doreen Hume was born (Edith) Doreen Hulme in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont, on July 14, 1926.

She had fans who wrote to her from all over the world and her accolades are so many that even this column seems like a tease to the legacy that she created.

She first studied voice with John Blackburn in Sault Ste. Marie, singing at St. Luke’s Cathedral at the age of 15.

When the second world war ended, from 1945-53 Hume went to Toronto to work with George Lambert at the Royal Conservatory of Music and was a soloist from 1946-53 at Grace Church on-the-Hill in Toronto.

But things started to really change for her when she won the ‘Opportunity Knocks’ award in 1948 and she performed on CBC radio. It started with a 13-week series for her and she also sang in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas with the CBC Light Opera Company.

As a member of the CBC Opera Company she took part in the North American radio premiere of Peter Grimes on Oct. 12, 1949 and for the 1952 repeat broadcast.

As a concert soloist she appeared in 1950 with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and in 1949, 1956, 1957, and 1959 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in pop concerts.

She also participated in performances of The Creation in Halifax and Ottawa.

In 1954 Hume moved to England, where she served for five years as principal soprano soloist of the BBC Light Music department, giving over 1,800 radio and TV performances under the direction of Robert Farnon, Sidney Torch, Carmen Dragon, and others.

She was the soprano soloist in London performances of Fauré’s Requiem (1957) and Handel’s Messiah (1958), conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent.

Hume represented England at the Venice Festival of Light Music in 1957, toured in Europe in 1958 with the BBC Concert Orchestra, and represented Canada at a special liberation anniversary concert in May 1965 in Holland.

She sang for the British troops in Cyprus, North Africa and Malta and was adored and honoured for this.

She made approximately 10 LPs and EPs (the first in 1958) of light music and musical comedy for the Philips Fontana, Epic and Rondolette record labels.

She performed for the Dutch Royal Family in 1959.

Her show tune recordings are listed in Jack Raymond’s Show Music on Record (New York 1982).

She also sang the role of Kate in a recording of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Yeoman of the Guard (1958).

In 1970 she returned to Toronto and was featured in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra pops concert in 1975.

In 1990 she was appointed to the faculty of Algoma University and also became a voice teacher at the Algoma Conservatory of Music. There she donated approximately 3,000 songs and 200 scores.

In 2009 she was inducted into the Sault Ste. Marie Walk of Fame.

She passed away July 2, 2022.