Born: March 17, 1918 - Murray, Nebraska, USA
Died: July 28, 1984 - Huntington, West Virginia, USA
The American mezzo-soprano, Jane Shepherd (born Flora Jane Boedeker), was born in Murray, Nebraska, a small village of 200. She began at age seven the piano training with her mother, a pianist. She attended William Woods College in Fulton, Missouri, where she obtained an associate degree. Then she went to to Paris, France, where she studied with Camille Decreus and Robert Casadesus at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau and obtained a Diplome díExecution in Piano. She returned to America and entered the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, studying under Severin Eisenberger, and obtained a bachelorís and masterís degree. At the urging of teachers and fellow musicians, she was encouraged to begin voice training, completing four years of studies under under Evan Evans (1942-1946) on a fellowship at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. This training culminated in the receipt of the prestigious Walter W. Naumburg Foundation Prize and a concert at the Town Hall in New York City in 1946.
In 1947 Jane Shepherd played leads in Dinner at Eight and Double Door. With her career as a mezzo-soprano thus launched, she took the stage name of Jane Hobson, her grandmotherís name. Since 1948, under the auspices of Columbia Artists Management she appeared extensively in leading cities throughout the USA and Canadas. er marriage in 1948 to Huntington, West Virginia, native Robert V. Shepherd somewhat limited but by no means ended her career. She continued to appear with such major orchestras as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra. Perhaps her most notable association was with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, with whom she performed on numerous occasions L.v. Beethovenís Ninth Symphony. She appeared with Leopold Stokowski at Carnegie Hall in Debussy's Blessed Damozel in 1948, and when she sang in L.v. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini in the same year, millions of radio listeners heard her. She also sang with the New York Symphony Orchestra and gave concerts at Town Hall, New York.
Jane Shepherd also shared her musical gift with her adopted city and state of Huntington, West Virginia. She taught privately, hosted a local classical music radio show, and finally, in 1958, joined the faculty of Marshall University (then College), where she coached many voice students until her retirement as Artist-in-Residence and full Professor of Music in 1983. In addition to numerous local appearances in recitals and concerts, Jane Shepherd also assisted in the formation of the Huntington Chamber Orchestra and in the organization of district and regional Metropolitan Opera Auditions. Governor Jay Rockefeller appointed her to the West Virginia Arts and Humanities Commission for two consecutive terms.
Jane Shepherd died unexpectedly on July 28, 1984, from complications arising from a fall that she suffered in her home several weeks earlier. She was survived by her husband, her son and daughter-in-law Brian and Kathryn Shepherd, two grandchildren, and her brother, Charles Boedeker, of Walnut Creek, California.