Ethel Gabriel

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Ethel deNagy Gabriel (born November 16, 1921) is an American record producer with a four-decade career at RCA Records.

Gabriel grew up in the Philadelphia area, learning the music business as a trombone player and bandleader of her own dance band in the 1930s. She later started working at RCA's record factory in Camden, New Jersey to earn a living in support of her music studies at Temple University. She eventually became a producer at RCA,[1] achieving notability as the first woman to become a record label producer,[2] and became head of the "Pure Gold" label. She won six Emmy Awards and produced fifteen Gold records out of over twenty-five hundred releases to her credit. Gold records include hits by Elvis Presley, Perry Como, Al Hirt, Roger Whitaker, Henry Mancini, among others.[3]

At RCA she initiated the company's Nashville studios and was a leader in the experiments and methods of electronically improving and influencing the sound of music, such as simulating the first stereo sounds by shifting sound between speakers. She was first to release a disco record and the first digital album.

Gabriel served as the A&R representative for singers such as Perry Como, Cleo Laine and Roger Whitaker. Under her direction RCA issued recordings by Dolly Parton, Jim Reeves, Henry Mancini, Perry Como, Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra, Peter Nero, Neil Sedaka. Frank Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and other artists, achieving top record sales for several of these artists.

In 1959 Gabriel created the "The Living Strings" series of albums, which were easy listening instrumental string versions of popular tunes,[4] earning a Grammy Award in 1968.[5] They spawned other "Living" ventures, such as the Living Jazz. She was also involved with the sound and direction of George Melachrino's "Music for Moods" movement that yielded the titles Music for Dining, Music for Daydreaming, Music for Faith and Inner Calm, and Music to Stop Smoking By.[6] Gabriel was involved in the Mambo craze in the United States by her work on the record "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White," with Perez Prado, a leading hit record for 10 weeks in 1955.[7]

She won a 1982 Grammy Award in the Best Historical Album category for The Tommy Dorsey/Frank Sinatra Sessions - Vols. 1, 2 & 3.[8]

Gabriel left RCA in 1984 and formed her own record label, JazzMania Records.[citation needed]

In 2007, having lost her life savings in the 1980s to an investment scheme engineered by former Treasury Secretary Robert B. Anderson,[9] Gabriel's career memorabilia were put up for auction in Pennsylvania.[3]

Gabriel is a graduate of Temple University and Columbia University and spent most of her career in New York City. She is the wife of the late Gus Gabriel, President of Dunhill Publishing Company (New York City).[10] She previously resided in the Poconos region of Pennsylvania before moving to Rochester, New York to be closer to family, as she has no children.[9]

In 2013 Ethel is working with new partner Jeff Greene on various projects.


  1. ^ Whiteley, Sheila (August 31, 2000). Women and Popular Music: Sexuality, Identity and Subjectivity. Routledge. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-415-21190-1. 
  2. ^ Billboard (Feb 1, 1997). Group Honors Five Women. Billboard Magazine. p. 62. 
  3. ^ a b Elvis Gold Record, Grammy Awards of Legendary Record Producer Ethel Gabriel to Be Sold at Auction
  4. ^ Faith, Percy. "Listening To Popular Music" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-01-21. 
  5. ^ Grammy Awards 1968
  6. ^ Lanza, Joseph (2004-01-06). Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak, Easy-Listening, and Other Moodsong. University of Michigan Press; Rev Exp edition. pp. 88–91. ISBN 978-0-472-08942-0. 
  7. ^ Elvis Gold Record, Grammy Awards of Legendary Record Producer Ethel Gabriel to be Sold at Auction
  8. ^ Grammy Award Winners
  9. ^ a b Spevak, Jeff (December 13, 2013). "Happy days here again for record producer". Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York). Gannett Company. pp. 1A,9A. Archived from the original on December 13, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  10. ^ Laskow, Michael. "Interview with Suzan Bader, President DSM/All-American Music Library". TAXI A&R. Retrieved 2010-01-21. 

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