Women at Abbey Road featuring Hazel Yarwood and Raie da Costa #IWD2022

8th March 2022

Today and every day, we want to celebrate all the amazing women who have recorded, produced, composed, engineered, or worked in any way at Abbey Road Studios across our 90 years.

In this completely incomplete list, we want to say thank you to

Maria Callas, Ella Fitzgerald, Ruby Murray, Cilla Black, Vera Lynn, Mrs. Mills, Jacqueline du Pré, Eartha Kitt, Alma Cogan, Helen Shapiro, Joni James, Dinah Shore, Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey, Carol Deene, Connie Francis, Amalia Rodrigues, The Peters Sisters, The Breakaways, The Nolans, Hephzibah Menuhin, Margaret Rutherford, Madeline Bell, Mary Hopkin, Beryl Marsden, Clare Torry, Katie Kissoon, Dame Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Dame Joan Hammond, Chrissie Hynde, Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Janet Baker, Barbara Cartland, Olivia Newton-John, Linda McCartney, Yoko Ono, Sarah Brightman, Suzi Quatro, Brix Smith, Anoushka Shankar, Adele, Dua Lipa, Joy Crookes, Florence Welch, Beabadoobee, Griff, Rina Sawayama, Denai Moore, Hamzaa, Kay Young, Emeli Sandé, Abi Harding, Jorja Smith, Ella Eyre, The Spice Girls, Kylie Minogue, Amy Winehouse, Ellie Goulding, Kate Nash, Kate Bush, Taylor Swift, Anne Marie, Little Simz, Mabel, Bree Runway, Celeste, Shygirl, Emma-Jean Thackray, Bat For Lashes, Sophie Hunger, Siouxsie Sioux, Mae Muller, Gracey, Olivia Dean, Freya Ridings, Greentea Peng, Lady Gaga, Jill Furmanovsky, Isobel Griffiths, Judy Lockhart Smith, Jennifer Howells, Fiona Gillott, Dom Dronska, Lucy Launder, Isabel Garvey, Doreen Dunkley, Colette Barber, Marta Di Nozzi, Vera Samwell, Peach Kazen, Maggie O’Sullivan, Kathy Bryan, Caroline Haigh, Sally Drew, Maria Gordon, Tracey Crookbaine, Dee Batten, Kathy Varley, Suzanne Elston, Linda Elelman, Roxy Pope, Fiona Ellis-Winkfield, Sarah Atkinson, Fiona Burman, Sam Harvey, Lynn Lebidineuse, Janet Penny, Christina Schoenleber, Kathy Evans, Sarah Layish-Melamed, Trish McGregor, Anne Dudley, Sylvia Massy, Olga FitzRoy, Abbie McCarthy, Anne Nikitin, Rachel Portman, Kate Musker, Hannah V, Rachel Chinouriri, Char Grant, Fiona Cruickshank, Caroline Dale, Nainita Desai, Amie Doherty, Karen Elliott, Anne Murphy, Jill Streater, Kirsty Whalley

and so many more for their contribution to the Abbey Road story, and to the wider music industry.

 

Raie da Costa and Hazel Yarwood

Two months before Sir Edward Elgar opened the studios in November 1931, our story began in Studio Three with a series of recordings by syncopated pianist and prolific recording artist Raie da Costa. 20 years later one of the greatest disc-cutters of her generation, Hazel Yarwood, started at Abbey Road. Celebrated for her high-fidelity work on classical and pop masters, she remains the studios’ first and only female cutting engineer.

 
 

"Raie Da Costa (1905-1934), of Portuguese origin, was born in Cape Town, South Africa. She moved to London at nineteen with a view to pursuing a career as a concert pianist. Success eluded her, however, so she developed her own style: a combination of classical and jazz elements with diverse musical idioms and much syncopation.

In 1928 she made her first records, and later in that year she began appearing in variety shows. Her success was immediate. She recorded on the Parlophone and HMV labels. Considered one of the most talented pianists of her time, she was known for her embellishments, incredible left hand technique, and orchestral musical concepts. Her playing activities and her early death meant that her compositional output was relatively small." - Gamma1734

On 18 Sept 1931, almost two months before Elgar’s famed official opening of the studios, da Costa recorded two tracks in Studio Three: Viktoria and her Hussar: Medley (Paul Abraham), Part 1 and  Mausie, Pardon Madame, Mama.

Watch this amazing video of Raie from British Pathé in 1933.

 
 
 

In 1950, Hazel Yarwood started at Abbey Road. A mastering engineer and disc-cutter, Hazel is celebrated for her high-fidelity work on classical and pop masters, she remains the studios’ first and only female cutting engineer.

She played a key role in EMI’s transition from 78s to LP records. Initially she would transfer old 78 RPM records to tape, adding crossfades or edits. From that, LP masters could be cut, duplicated and sold.

As LPs, with their extended frequency range and dynamic possibilities, became the norm, tape recording was also becoming trusted at Abbey Road through the use of new BTR tape machines. Eventually Abbey Road engineers began recording on tape specifically intended for the LP format.

In 1960 Hazel asked to go into disc cutting. She asserts, “The cutter has the final say; you are in fact making something. If you have a sense of responsibility towards the music, then you are going to maintain the dynamics that the artist has given you.”

“We all know there are machines that could knock the peaks down and make the records without even listening to it. But you wouldn’t have an artistic product at the end. It’s not just the peaks, sometimes the tape is too quiet. You have to find a place where the conductor’s making a diminuendo or crescendo, whatever you want, and just ‘aid and abet’ it a little bit. And you have to do that artistically in my opinion. You can’t sit there reading a book and just let the automation do everything, you’ve got to keep alert as to what’s happening.” - Quotes from Studio Sound Magazine - American Radio History, May 1985

#IWD #IWD2022
 

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