Ann Drummond-Grant British singer
That Voice
That Voice
In Search of the Singer Who Shaped My Life
Book Cover for "That Voice" by Marcia Menter

Ann Drummond-Grant

I was thirteen, listening to the comic operas of Gilbert & Sullivan, when I heard, amid the general joyous tomfoolery, a full-throated, shining sound—the sound of a woman giving everything she had. She woke me up: There was substance to this woman, and soul. I spent the next half-century pursuing her, first as a student of singing, then as a would-be biographer. “Drummie” didn’t leave much of a paper trail. But I kept finding out more about her, including some uncanny correspondences with my own life. I came to realize that the best way to tell her story was to intertwine it with my own—to show how a human voice can travel across time and space to change another person’s path.

The Makings of a Singer

A singer is endowed with a physical instrument: a larynx of a certain size, a throat and skull of a certain configuration, and a pair of lungs with a certain capacity. These are gifts of God or heredity or dumb luck, depending on your point of view, but they are gifts. I had a serviceable lyric soprano voice, and it took me years of study to begin to understand how to use it properly. Ann Drummond-Grant’s voice was operatic, large and beautifully trained. Her dedication and hard work enabled her to sing eight performances a week, forty-eight weeks a year, touring with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. (That’s her above, as Little Buttercup in HMS Pinafore.) She possessed a fine natural instrument, but it was furious discipline that made her the glorious performer she was.