|When President Theodore Roosevelt
came to Salem on May 21, 1903, he was impressed by several persons
he met, especially the soprano, Hallie Parrish Hinges, with
her strong, mellow voice.
The President was seated beside Oregon Governor George Chamberlain
and dozens of silk-hatted dignitaries on the west steps of
the Capitol. Thousands of people crowded Willson Park. Before
Roosevelt gave his speech, the leader of the Cherry City Band
signaled Hallie. She rose to sing the National Anthem, standing
tall in her floor-length silk skirt trimmed in sealskin, a
brown sealskin jacket, and brown, chenille hat with velvet
orange nasturtiums around the crown.
The 45-star American Flag rustled in the breeze as her "sweet
and powerful" voice began radiating over the throng,
rising in volume in the final stanza "...o'er the land
of the free and the home of the brave!" Her voice reached
listeners as far as eleven blocks away on the High Street
President Roosevelt said to Governor Chamberlain, "She
has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. Have
her sing again." Hallie responded by singing a favorite
of the time, "The Flag Without a Stain," and soon
the president wiped his eyes, asked for her name and said,
"Truly, she is the Oregon Nightingale."
Hallie, a granddaughter of Methodist minister Josiah L. Parrish,
was 35 years old when she sang for President Roosevelt. She
had been a vocal attraction in Oregon since age six and had
performed for President Benjamin Harrison in 1891 and for
political figure William Jennings Bryan in 1900.
The "Oregon Nightingale" was the favorite "songbird"
of the Northwest, singing at weddings and funerals, for shut-ins,
or for political events such as the opening of the Oregon
Legislature. She was a soloist at the Oregon State Fair for
thirty years and also performed at the Reed Opera House and
the Grand Theater, two well-known Salem venues.
Hallie sang in the state's first concert to be broadcast
by radio, a performance emanating from the Portland Oregonian
Tower. She also performed at the opening of Portland's Multnomah
Athletic Club, an exclusive private club. According to Hinges'
granddaughter, Hallie even had a race horse named in her honor.
The "Oregon Nightingale" died in Salem on January
25, 1950 at the age of 82. She is buried in Salem's Jason
Unfortunately, there are no recordings that would allow us
to hear her voice today, but another testimony to the quality
of her voice was what a listener said after hearing Hallie
perform at a statewide conference of Methodists: "What
can the choirs of angels in Heaven be like when one woman's
voice can be so beautiful on earth."
Compiled by Virginia Green
Al Jones. "Hallie Parrish Hinges, the Oregon Nightingale".
Historic Marion, Marion County Historical Society Quarterly,
Vol. 33, No 3/4, November/December, 1995, pages 1 and 9