Viola Smith, “the world’s fastest thresher”, passed away at 107

Viola Smith, “the world’s fastest thresher”, passed away at 107
Viola Smith, “the world’s fastest thresher”, passed away at 107

Considered the first professional drummer, Viola Smith rose to prominence playing in the all-female swing band Frances Carroll & the Coquettes, which rose to popularity in the late 1930s.

The musician was not only renowned for her speed and precision, but also for her drums, which consisted of 12 pieces.

During her career, Viola Smith has performed for artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Webb and Bob Hope, as well as for The NBC Symphony Orchestra and for the television show The Ed Sullivan Show.

For an increased presence of musicians

In 1942 she published a text in the professional music magazine DownBeat to call on jazz group leaders to recruit women in order to make up for the absence of men who have gone to war.

Rather than replacing them with [hommes] with perhaps mediocre talent, why not let some of the country’s greatest musicians take their place? […] Women work well alongside men in factories, offices… So why not in dance music groups?

Viola Smith

In addition, there are musicians who master their instrument as well as musicians, she added.

Assigned to the drums by his father

Born in 1912 in Wisconsin, Viola Smith was the sixth child in a family steeped in music. His father played the cornet and his five sisters, the saxophone, the clarinet or the violin.

When a sixth member was added to the family orchestra my dad decided it would be for playing the drums, which was great for me because what better instrument than the drums? had told Viola Smith, in 2013, to Tom Tom Magazine.

According to her family, Viola Smith died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.


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