Dale Lind, one of Chicago’s most famous cantors, dies at 99

SHARE Dale Lind, one of Chicago’s most famous cantors, dies at 99

Dale Lind’s four-octave voice lifted him out of a modest tenement on New York’s East Side into a singing career as a 9-year-old “boy cantor” who cut records at 11 and grew up to entertain World War II troops alongside such greats as Danny Kaye and Cary Grant.

When Dale was 12, famed comic George Jessell introduced him at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre as “the most amazing vocal discovery of our time,” according to one of Mr. Lind’s LPs, “At the Pavillon.”

He was equally comfortable doing opera, standards from the Great American Songbook and vaudeville tunes with a touch of schmaltz, like “My Yiddishe Momme,” with its lines:

“I owe what I am today

to that dear little lady so old and gray

to that wonderful yiddishe momme of mine.”

But his renditions of Jewish prayers and music made him one of the most famous cantors in Chicago, where he settled after touring the U.S. and Canada with his cantor brothers, Murray and Phil. With tight blood harmony and strong arrangements, they performed at synagogues, Jewish organizations and nightclubs.

<small><strong> Young Dale Lind, boy cantor | Family photo</strong></small>

Young Dale Lind, boy cantor | Family photo

Mr. Lind sang for almost a century until his death at his Northbrook home on Sunday, three months short of his 100th birthday.

“At one time, my dad and his brothers married half the Jews in Chicago,” said his son, Cary.

He was born Isadore David Lind and became a fifth-generation cantor by learning to sing from his father, Joshua, who immigrated from what’s now known as Rava-Ruska, Ukraine. Mr. Lind also received training from New York voice teacher Mario Rubini-Reichlin. The brothers started out performing as David, Moshe and Pinchikel. Eventually, they became known as Dale, Murray and Phil. They did a religious program as “The Three Lind Brothers,” and more secular songs as “The Noteworthies.”

<small><strong> The Three Lind Brothers | provided photo</strong></small>

The Three Lind Brothers | provided photo

They enlisted in the Army in World War II and served in the Pacific, where Mr. Lind knew Pete Seeger and Jerry Siegel, credited with co-creating the comic book character “Superman.” When the military brass learned of the Linds’ musical pedigree, they were assigned to do radio in the Philippines with Danny Kaye and future Cubs manager Leo Durocher. They also performed with Melvyn Douglas, Eddie Cantor and Betty Hutton.

After being discharged, they were booked at many top nightclubs, including Chicago’s Rumba Casino, the Mayfair Room and the Latin Quarter. The Linds also sang at Slapsy Maxie’s in Los Angeles and the Circle Lounge in Milwaukee, where they followed Nat King Cole. Mr. Lind’s singing is preserved in the Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University.

Dale Lind had a four-octave singing voice / family photo

Dale Lind had a four-octave singing voice / family photo

In 1947, the brothers appeared in a musical featurette for Universal Pictures. Mr. Lind’s future wife, Jessie, a striking brunette, was offered a screen test. “He said ‘No, I’m going to lose you,’ ” his daughter, Barbara Clearbridge, said. They were married 72 years.

Though part of the conservative branch of Judaism, he was one of the first Jewish clergymen in Chicago who performed weddings between Jews and gentiles, his son said. “He decided if people loved each other, they shouldn’t be denied a religious wedding.”

He was cantor at Am Echod, B’Nai Jacob and Albany Park Hebrew Congregation. In 1974, he formed his own congregation, Sons of Joshua, for worshippers who were not affiliated with synagogues. He rented out banquet halls to hold High Holiday and other services.

Jessie and Cantor Dale Lind, who were married 72 years / family photo

Jessie and Cantor Dale Lind, who were married 72 years / family photo

Murray and Phil also settled in Chicago, and for a time, the Linds ran a Devon Avenue clothing store, Boys World, as “something to fall back on,” said Jessie Lind. Cowboy singer Roy Rogers performed at the opening.

Mr. Lind hated being around cigarette smoke. He’d soothe his throat with tea and honey and lemon, and maybe a schvitz at the old Luxor Russian Baths on North Avenue in Wicker Park.

“Cantor Dale Lind was the last of a great cantorial family to carry forth the authentic modes of the Eastern European tradition with stylistic authenticity,” said Cantor Alberto Mizrahi, president of the 600-member Cantors Assembly, the largest such group in the world, and cantor at Anshe Emet synagogue, 3751 N. Broadway. “He was great as a cantor, performer, and personality who will be missed.”

His brothers and his sisters, Norma Platt and Selma Friedler, died before him. Mr. Lind’s funeral is at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home, 111 Skokie Blvd., Wilmette. His granddaughters, Cantor Joanna P. Lind and Allison Lind, will sing.

A Dale Lind LP / provided photo

A Dale Lind LP / provided photo

Jessie and Dale Lind at their 70th wedding anniversary / family photo

Jessie and Dale Lind at their 70th wedding anniversary / family photo

Cantor Dale Lind / family photo

Cantor Dale Lind / family photo

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