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“America’s Favorite Tenor.” That was what they called James Melton from the 1920s through the 1950s. He was perhaps the first multi-media performer—in a career that spanned concerts, recordings, movies, the Metropolitan Opera, radio and television. His fame as a singer was equaled by his renown as an antique car collector. In this hobby he was a pioneer in recognizing these vehicles not only as an important part of America’s history, but as works of art. His career and his hobby reflected the two great technologies that knit the country together in the 20th century—the airwaves and the automobile.
Back in the Spring of 2003, I began mailing a semi-annual James Melton Newsletter to fans, friends and family. Its purpose was to keep them apprised of developments in the James Melton Project as a whole, and more specifically to solicit information for the biographical memoir I was writing about my father, and give updates on my progress with the manuscript and the CD I hoped to have produced. There seemed to be new information, new recordings, new reminiscences, and Melton memorabilia on e-bay, appearing on the web or in my mailbox every week. While the amount of new material may have dwindled somewhat in the past few years, the interest is still there, and my archives are bursting with memorabilia to be shared. So I’m taking this opportunity to expand my network even further by posting this information on line via the blogosphere.
I will do my best to keep a balance between James Melton’s vocation and his avocation, that is, between the music and the automobiles.