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Hallie Parrish Hinges
 
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 hill.

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 Lee Cemetery.

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

Bibliography:
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

 

 

Hallie Hinges in a performance gown.

Hallie Hinges in a performance gown.
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