• U.S.

Music: God’s Voice

2 minute read
TIME

Singing oldtime gospel hymns at a Bowery mission in Manhattan on Sundays is an earnest, round-faced woman who twelve years ago in Indianapolis dedicated herself to the service of God and the Volunteers of America.* Mrs. Lillian B. Ulrey claims that she was paralyzed from the waist down when friends persuaded her to attend her first Volunteer gathering. There she suddenly felt a call to rise from her wheel chair, march up to the platform and sing He Lifted Me. Cured, she felt free to marry Walter Otis Ulrey, a stocky young businessman, who willingly renounced his worldly goods and ways, donned a Volunteer uniform, took to sermonizing on Indianapolis street corners with his wife as his singing partner. From Indianapolis the Ulreys marched on Louisville, where they remained for five years, became Volunteer ”majors,” broadcasting occasionally from the Louisville County Jail. Lately a small Manhattan radio station (WLTH) has been sending out their Bowery mission programs. Result was that an advertising scout heard Mrs. Ulrey sing The Penitent’s Plea and Let the Lower Lights Be Burning, was vastly impressed with the quality of her voice. He saw to it that she was offered a steady radio contract at $500 per week, a chance to sing with Rudy Vallee in behalf of Fleischmann’s Yeast. Volunteer Ulrey came near yielding to temptation. Last week, after due meditation, she refused all commercial offers, piously announced “My voice belongs to God.”‘

*Not to be confused with the Salvation Army, the Volunteers of America was founded in the U. S. in 1896 by General Ballington Booth & wife following a Booth family schism.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com