American popular singer, born in New Orleans. He was the leading blues singer of the acoustic period, known also for minstrel songs. His first record for Edison was possibly the earliest authentic blues vocal to be released: “Hesitation Blues” (Diamond Disc 50524 and Blue Amberol cylinder 6621; 1919). His next offering, “Nigger Blues,” sold well on Diamond Disc (50542; 1919), and Blue Amberol cylinder. Bernard’s blues were rhythmic and humorous in style. Duets with Ernest Hare were especially amusing; one of the best being “I Want to Hold You in My Arms” (Diamond Disc 50558; 1919), which stayed in the catalog for 10 years. Bernard first recorded “St. Louis Blues” in July 1918 on Aeolian-Vocalion 12148, with backup by a group that was at one time thought to be “probably the Original Dixieland Jazz Band” (Walsh); but was in fact a studio band directed by Harry Yerkes. It later came out on Edison and became one of the all-time best sellers on that label (Diamond Disc 50620; 1919), issued also on 19 other labels. He became a popular Columbia artist also, beginning with “I Want My Mammy,” a duet with Vernon Dalhart in 1922. Bernard’s final record for Edison was made in 1927; then in 1949 he made a last appearance on disc with a two-78-rpm disc set entitled Al Bernard’s Merry Minstrel Show (Celebrity #1). Bernard could not read music nor play any instrument. He sang under many pseudonyms, including John Bennett, Dave Sanborn, Al Simpson, and Uncle Joe. He died in New York. [Rust; Walsh 1974/3-12; Walsh 1975/12.]

French actress; of interest to recorded sound because she made a number of early cylinders and discs. In early 1896 she inscribed monologs by Eugene Sylvestre and Victor Hugo for Bettini (no copies extant). In 1900, at the Phono-Cinéma-Théatre Exposition in Paris, she did a scene from Hamlet and some readings from French authors in the earliest talking motion picture. Later, from 1902 to 1918, she recorded for Pathé, HMV, Zonophone, Edison, and Aeolian-Vocalion. [Marty 1979 has an illustration; Rust 1989.]