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  Master Joe Petersen   [Mary O'Rourke]    (b. 1913) Boy Soprano Soloist 
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Master Joe Petersen In 1933, the prolific Master Joe Petersen (1913-1964) was signed to Crystalate Records of London, billed as "Master Joe Petersen, the Phenomenal Boy Singer". He became a big name in Britain and in Europe. The interesting thing is that Master Joe Petersen wasn't a boy. He was a 20-year-old Scottish woman named Mary O'Rourke! Under the name of Joe Petersen she recorded 59 78rpm discs for the Rex label between 1934 and 1942.

Born in Helensburgh, Mary O'Rourke was brought up in Glasgow's Gallowgate in an Irish show business family. She was born with a unique and beautiful voice and won many talent contests. She was recruited by her uncle to to take the place of his other boy singers whose voices kept breaking, and was later banned from broadcasting on the BBC because they considered her 'improper' for dressing as a boy.

Mary married George Lethbridge, an orchestral violinist, after becoming pregnant, but he left for the Army when war broke out. She died in Glasgow in 1964. A 30 minute documentary about her was broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland on 26 June 2006. A book is also available which chronicles her unique story.

She was also known as Master Wilfred Eaton and Michael Dawney.
Related Sites
BCSD: Master Wilfred Eaton
Another name Mary used to record and perform.
Master Joe Petersen - A Boy's Best Friend Is His Mother
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Charles Garland Productions
A documentary was planned. Not known if it was completed.

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Featured Recordings Compact | Full
Master Joe Petersen - Master Joe Petersen: The Phenomenal Boy Singer
Master Joe Petersen: The Phenomenal Boy Singer (Lismor LCOM 5233 , CD) Mai 1994
Featuring Master Joe Petersen  
Tracks taken from the original Crystalate Company's "Rex" masters.
  1.   Smilin Through  
  2.   My Ain Folk  
  3.   No Souvenirs  
  4.   Rainbow Valley  
  5.   It's A Sin to Tell A Lie  
  6.   Sweetheart, Let's Grow Old Together  
  7.   The Old Rugged Cross  
  8.   Memories of Childhood Days  
  9.   When They Sound The Last All Clear  
10.   You Don't Have To Tell Me, I Know  
11.   Two Little Tears  
12.   The Badge From You're Coat  
13.   A Perfect Day  
14.   Little Grey Home In The West  
15.   My Heart's In Killarney  
16.   Broken Hearted Clown  
17.   Choir Boy  
18.   Goodnight My Love  
Available at   Amazon.co.uk Using this Amazon affiliate link, you support the Boychoir & Soloist Directory
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Available at   musicscotland.com
  ISA Music Track previews
Master Joe Petersen - If Those Lips Could |Only Speak / The Old Rustic Bridge By The Mill
If Those Lips Could |Only Speak / The Old Rustic Bridge By The Mill (Rex 8785, 78 RPM) 1936
Featuring Master Joe Petersen  
  Side A -   If Those Lips Could Only Speak (L)  
  Side B -   The Old Rustic Bridge By The Mill  
no cover
Let's Grow Old Together / It's a Sin to Tell a Lie (Rex 8895, 78 RPM) 1936
Featuring Master Joe Petersen  
  Side A -   Let's Grow Old Together  
  Side B -   It's a Sin to Tell a Lie  
no cover
A portrait of a lady / It's my mother's birthday today (Rex 8601, 78 RPM) 1935
Featuring Master Joe Petersen  
  Side A -   A portrait of a lady  
  Side B -   It's my mother's birthday today (L)  
Master Joe Petersen - Mother Machree / Killarney
Mother Machree / Killarney (Rex 8555, 78 RPM) 1935
Featuring Master Joe Petersen  
  Side A -   Mother Machree  
  Side B -   Killarney  
no cover
The Song that Reached My Heart / Won't You Buy My Pretty Flowers? (Rex 8386, 78 RPM) 1935
Featuring Master Joe Petersen  
  Side A -   The Song that Reached My Heart  
  Side B -   Won't You Buy My Pretty Flowers?  
no cover
In the Valley of the Moon / Sonny Boy (Rex 8296, 78 RPM) 1934
Featuring Master Joe Petersen  
  Side A -   In the Valley of the Moon  
  Side B -   Sonny Boy  
no cover
Just a Little Grey-Haired Lady / Daddy (Rex 8077, 78 RPM) 1934
Featuring Master Joe Petersen  
  Side A -   Just a Little Grey-Haired Lady  
  Side B -   Daddy  
  3.   no place like home  
  4.   blind boy  
  5.   mother of mine  
no cover
Love's Old Sweet Song / White Wings (Rex 8136, 78 RPM) 1934
Featuring Master Joe Petersen  
  Side A -   Love's Old Sweet Song  
  Side B -   White Wings  
Master Joe Petersen - Smilin' Through / My Ain Folk
Smilin' Through / My Ain Folk (Rex 8255, 78 RPM) 1934
Featuring Master Joe Petersen  
  Side A -   Smilin' Through  
  Side B -   My Ain Folk  
Books Compact | Full
Master Joe Petersen - Master Joe Petersen - The Phenomenal Boy Singer and Legendary Scottish Variety and Recording Star
Master Joe Petersen - The Phenomenal Boy Singer and Legendary Scottish Variety and Recording Star (FWM Publishing , Book) 1994
Featuring Master Joe Petersen  
By Franck Wappat. The incredible story of Mary O'Rourke, aka Master Joe Petersen, plus full discography of all known recordings under various names. Illus. 94pp.
This page last modified on Samstag, 28. März 2009
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