Jones, Ada, dominant female recording star of the early 20th century and comedienne; b. Manchester, England, June 1, 1873; d. Rocky Mount, N.C., May 2, 1922. A powerful contralto with a versatile style that allowed her to handle both serious and humorous material, Jones was the most popular female recording artist of the 1900s and 1910s. In fact, she was the first woman whose voice was recorded successfully. She immigrated to the U.S. when she was young and began her career as a musical comedy performer. Turning to recording in 1904, she sang such major hits as “I Just Can’t Make My Eyes Behave” (1907), “The Yama Yama Man” (with the Victor Light Opera Co.; 1909), “I’ve Got Rings on My Fingers” (1909), “Call Me Up Some Rainy Day” (with the American Quartet), “Row! Row!Row!” (1913), and “By the Beautiful Sea” (with Billy Watkins).
Ada and Billy, the duet team of Jones and Billy Murray, was almost equally successful, with hits including “Let’s Take an Old-Fashioned Walk” (1907), “Wouldn’t You Like to Have Me for a Sweetheart?” (1908), “When We Are M-A-Double-R-I-E-D” (1908), “Cuddle Up a Little Closer, Lovey Mine” (1908), “Shine On, Harvest Moon” (1909), “Come, Josephine, in My Flying Machine” (with the American Quartet; 1911), and “Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee” (1912). She also maintained a successful partnership with Len Spencer that resulted in 20 hit comedy records between 1905 and 1910.
Jones was married to dancer Hughie Flaherty, and the couple had a daughter. She died suddenly of acute uremia while on a concert tour.