Clara Edwards

Clara Edwards was an esteemed composer, singer, and songwriter, who gained notoriety in the 1920s. Edwards began writing music after becoming a single mother following the death of her husband, composing over 100 works and publishing 60 songs.

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    Born Clara Gerlich in Blue Earth County, Minnesota, Clara Edwards grew up studying voice and piano. She attended both the Mankato State Normal School and the Cosmopolitan School of Music in Chicago. In her early career, she toured Vienna as a singer. After the death of her husband, she began composing to support herself and her daughter. She became a member of the ASCAP in 1925. It was during this time that she composed works such as “With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair” and “Into the Night”. 

    Edwards frequently collaborated with Jack Lawrence, who wrote the text for her compositions. Her work gained popularity, as she was able to seamlessly blend art song and parlor music together, captivating audiences. Several prolific singers took a liking to Edwards’ work; most notably Italian opera singer, Ezio Pinza, who would frequently perform “Into the Night” on the radio program Telephone Hour. 

    Beyond her work as a composer, Edwards toured within the Vaudeville scene, was involved in the organization of the Chautauqua Concert Company, and wrote incidental music for children’s plays and cartoon programs. 

    – Lucy Koukoudian

    This profile was created during the 2023-2024 academic year as part of the Song of America Fellowship Program, a project of the Classic Song Research Initiative between the Hampsong Foundation and the University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance


    Finn, Robert. “Edwards [Née Gerlich], Clara,” April 19, 2002.

    Related Information


    American Song Institute 2022 Recital

    (H. Leslie Adams, Samuel Barber, Elizabeth Bishop, Paul Bowles, Henry T. Burleigh, Leslie Morgan Collins, Aaron Copland, Michael Daugherty, Emily Dickinson, Clara Edwards, Marques L. A. Garrett, Paul Goodman, Ricky Ian Gordon, Charles Griffes, Richard Hageman, Laurence Hope, Charles Ives, Georgia Douglas Johnson, James Joyce, Abraham Lincoln, Ben Moore, Undine Smith Moore, John Jacob Niles, Frederic Prokosch, Ned Rorem, Howard Swanson, Elinor Remick Warren, Clarence Cameron White, Walt Whitman, Tennessee Williams and John Wesley Work III)


    View recording

    Ah! Love, But A Day

    (Amy Marcy Beach, Margaret Bonds, Libby Larsen, Margaret Ruthven Lang, Undine Smith Moore, Florence Price, Gladys Rich and Gwyneth Van Anden Walker)


    Sheet Music

    The First Book of Soprano Solos

    Composer(s): Louis Campbell-Tipton, Samuel Barber, Edward MacDowell, Oley Speaks

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

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