There’s a lot of sheet music out there with Ruth Etting on the cover. Some of the songs she recorded, some she never recorded but sang on the radio, and others she may never have sung at all – but the publishers knew her face on the cover, might help sell more copies of the song! Most of what’s available was published in the late 1920′s and early 1930′s, during the peak of her career.
But what about her early years in Chicago? She came to Chicago in 1914 at the age of seventeen to study art, got a job designing costumes at a night club called the Marigold Gardens, and by 1918 was the featured vocalist. In 1926 she signed a record deal with Columbia Records, that led to nation-wide exposure. So for eight years, from 1918-1926, she worked mostly in Chicago – appearing live and on local radio. It was during that time that she was known as Chicago’s Sweetheart.
So the sheet music above for No One’s Fool is particularly interesting because it’s dated 1921. So she may not have had a big record deal yet, and she may not have had a lot of national exposure, but she had some! And only three years into her career.
The photograph on the cover is one of very few images from the beginning of her career – and may be the oldest image from that time in her life in existence. There are baby pictures that show up on eBay occasionally, but I’ve never seen a photo of Ruth as a young girl, or from before 1921. The same photograph was used in 1926 on the cover of What Can I Say After I Say I’m Sorry? – and it wasn’t out of the ordinary for the same photos to be reused, but since this sheet music is from 1921, we know this particular photograph was shot sometime before that – so she was probably around 24, or maybe a little younger.