Graham Payn was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1918 . He had been taught piano from an early age and his teacher found that he had a good singing voice. He started entering competitions and by the age of about eleven had won three singing competitions in a row.
In 1932, when he was fourteen Graham went to the Adelphi Theatre to audition for Noel Coward's new review, Words and Music. 'I knew I wouldn't get long to audition on stage so I sang Nearer my God to Thee and did a tap dance at the same time! Noel was sitting in the stalls and said ''We must have that boy in the show''. So that's how I got into Words & Music.'
-- Bio and picture from Betterland.boychoirs.org
Graham was born at Pietermaritzburg, in Natal, South Africa, (according to the long obituary in The Times [London], 8 Nov. 2005), and he was educated there, and privately in England. He started out at the age of 13 as Curly in Peter Pan at the London Palladium, progressing to films as a boy soprano in 1932 when he was 14. (For his theatrical career as an adult please see the obituary.) He died in Switzerland on 4 Nov. 2005, aged 87.
British Pathe Films Footage of Graham from 1931-1932: Meadowsweet, In an old fashioned town, I hear you calling me.
Graham Payn Budget-priced disc retailing at 1/=. A: The hymn that I sang as a boy (song, 1933: wds Sonny Miller - music John Burnaby) (matrix F.530) B: As I knelt [or kneel] beside that old arm-chair (song, 1933: Arale & D. Dene) (F.531) with Wurlitzer organ accomp.
"Emotional listeners will probably come all over soulful when hearing this disc, for the combination of Master Payn's pleading treble and the Wurlitzer organ may well prove too much for them." (Review in The Talking Machine and Wireless Trade News, London, Oct. 1933, p. 231.)
Graham Payn Organ acc. by Bruce Wendell. This record retailed at one shilling. For details of these two songs, please see the full entries under the recordings by Teddie Harcourt & Thomas Criddle.
Graham Payn "Master Graham Payne", accompanied by Herbert Dawson on the Binns organ at Kingsway Hall, London. Both items recorded ca. 24 Dec. 1931. Retail price 1/6. Disc deleted Jan. 1942. A: Cast thy burden (sacred song, 1917, by Bernard Hamblen (1877-1962) to wds by Wesley Durham) (matrix OY1548-2) B: Nearer, my God, to Thee (wds Sarah Fuller/Flower Adams (1805-48), publ. 1841 - music Lewis Carey (pseud. of Lucie or Lucy Johnstone, d. 1925), 1902) (OY1549-2) "In this youngster we have a chorister with an agreeable little treble voice, not altogether under perfect control but commendably in tune and of mellow texture. He has naturally still a lot to learn, but there is great promise in his singing on this disc and I hope to hear more of him." (Review by Hubert S. Ryan in The Talking Machine and Wireless Trade News, London, Feb. 1932, pp. 522f)
Master Derek Barsham Recorded 30 Apl. 1947 (AR11093 & 11094), with Gladys Palmer, contralto, Norman Lumsden, bass & London Symphony Orchestra cond. Stanford Robinson. Issued June 1947 on Decca K.1601. ["Better Land" the two parts separately in vols. 3 & 4]
Available from the producer at £10 plus postage, or £55 plus postage for the set of 6 CD's (which includes as a special offer Stephen R. Beet's book "The Better Land - in search of the lost boy sopranos"
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Master Derek Barsham. Recorded 3 or 4 May 1946 with piano accomp. Live direct-disc recording at the Royal Albert Hall during the Boys' Brigade Annual Display, Physical Phantasmagoria. First issue on "Better Land" vol. 2.
Master Derek Barsham & Norman Lumsden, bass Recorded 30 Apl. 1947 (AR11093 & 11094), with Gladys Palmer, contralto, Norman Lumsden, bass & London Symphony Orchestra cond. Stanford Robinson. Issued June 1947 on Decca K.1601. ["Better Land" the two parts separately in vols. 3 & 4]
As well as chapters on Iwan Davies, Derek Barsham, and Denis Wright, amongst others there are also chapters under the following headings: The Temple Boys, The Manchester Boys, The Music Hall Boys, The Fleeting Boys, and The Broadcast Boys.
This book is available directly from the author: Contact StephenRBeet@gmail.com
Price £10 plus postage
This book is available for the cost of postage and packing only if the set of six The Better Land CD albums is ordered.