Sleep, Baby, Sleep

Frank Luther

Decca CS-4 ©1946

Total Time: 12:39

Frank Luther (August 4, 1899 – November 16, 1980) was an American country music singer, dance band vocalist, playwright, songwriter and pianist.

Born Francis Luther Crow on a farm near Lakin, Kansas, forty miles from the Colorado line, he was raised on a farm near Hutchinson, Kansas, where his father, William R. Crow, and mother, Gertrude Phillips Crow, dealt in livestock and trotting horses. He began to study piano at age 6, improvising his own music when repetitious exercises bored him, and began vocal instruction at 13.

Three years later, he toured the Midwest as tenor with a quartet called The Meistersingers. He began studying at the University of Kansas, but attended a revival meeting conducted by Jesse Kellems and was so deeply impressed that he accepted an offer from the evangelist to become his musical director. During a subsequent stop in Iola, Kansas, young Crow himself was ordained, despite his never having studied for the ministry.

By 1921, the Reverend Francis Luther Crow was in the pulpit of the First Christian Church in Bakersfield, California. There, he organized a 30-voice children’s choir, an 80-voice adult choir, and two church orchestras. Writing and delivering his weekly sermons proved more problematic, and the Boy Preacher, as he was known locally, resigned to devote his creative energies to the world of music.

Returning to Kansas, he married vocalist/musician Zora Layman on May 8, 1920, and the young couple eventually worked their way to New York City. In 1926, he was seriously pursuing further vocal training when he was invited to join the DeReszke Singers, as tenor/accompanist. They declared his surname, Crow, to be un-musical, and so he dropped it and became Frank Luther from that day on. The quartet toured with humorist Will Rogers, with whom Frank spent considerable time while on the road.

Luther joined a popular quartet, The Revelers, as tenor in 1927. They toured the British Isles, where Frank met the future Queen of the United Kingdom and did a set accompanied on the drums by the Prince of Wales. His career seemed to be at its zenith, but he contracted a severe cold on the way back to New York. A long-lasting sinus infection and infected throat robbed his ability to sing for nearly a year. His voice returned in a painfully slow manner.

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