Barbara Lee Owens' second CD captures the sound of the KDKA singer of the late '40s
April 26, 2014 9:31 PM
By Adrian McCoy / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Singer Barbara Lee Owens was a local radio star in the late 1940s. From 1947-49 she performed on KDKA-AM's "Songs You Love to Hear," a weekly show sponsored by Breakfast Cheer Coffee.
Barbara Lee Owens Stamy is a longtime Fox Chapel resident whose musical range extended from popular songs to stage, classical and sacred music.
Her voice and those early radio performances are now preserved on CDs, thanks to the efforts of her son Lloyd Stamy Jr. Last year, he released a collection of recordings -- "Songs You Love to Hear," which was named for the original KDKA radio show.
That was followed this month by a second volume -- "Falling in Love With Love." Songs include the title track, "What Is This Thing Called Love?", "Ev'rything I Love," "Silver Moon" and 10 others.
Also heard on the recordings are pianist/celesta player Russ Merritt, organist Johnny Mitchell and announcer Paul Shannon, who then worked at KDKA.
It was Mr. Merritt who rescued a stack of 12 16-inch acetate disks of live transcription recordings of the show that were headed for the landfill. He kept them in his garage for decades and eventually gave them to Mr. Stamy. Mr. Stamy later found a second treasure trove of his mother's recordings that were stored in a stereo cabinet.
The original recordings were transferred to reel-to-reel tape by Chris Hood, and later digitized by George Heid Jr. and Steve Zelenko. The digital versions were then remastered and restored by Stephen Wilde, an actor and former Pittsburgher now living in New York.
A third volume -- "Say It With Music" -- will be released in May. Mr. Stamy plans to add three volumes of duets, which Mrs. Stamy sang with the late Johnny Kirby, who also was a regular on the "Songs You Love to Hear" program.
Volumes 1 and 2 are available for $15 through barbaraleeowens.com and can be downloaded from iTunes.
Adrian McCoy: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1865.