Apr 13, 2021

By Andy Johnson

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Zoomers of a certain age will remember muzak in elevators and grocery stores and a series of records known as “Pure Gold.”  That was the work of Grammy winning producer Ethel Gabriel.

Gabriel blazed a trail for other women in the music industry by turning a sleepy corner of the business into a major profit centre.

For nearly four decades, she was the only female record producer at RCA and as such supervised recordings by the Living Strings, an ad hock studio orchestra that did symphonic and chamber renditions of standards and pop songs.  The Living Strings grew into a business that piped muzak into stores, offices and elevators, often with the dubious belief that its comforting blandness could motivate productivity or sales.

Ethel Gabriel has died from dementia at the age of 99.

However, she won’t be forgotten.  A documentary film on her life and times called “Living Sound” is planned for general release, in November of next year, in time for what would have been her 101st birthday.

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