LUMSDAINE, JOHN SINCLAIR (1895-1948), songwriter, vaudeville artist and
entertainer, was born on 18 November 1895 at Casino, New South Wales, son of
Herbert Sinclair Lumsdaine, native-born bank manager, and his English wife Edith,
née Bentley, a music teacher who taught her son to sing and play the piano. In
1905, after his parents moved to Hunters Hill, Sydney, Jack attended St Andrew's
Cathedral Choir School (also studying music and playing the organ), and in 1909-10
Sydney Grammar School. He was briefly a bank clerk but in 1911 he joined a
vaudeville company, the All Blacks; for two years he toured Australia, singing and
playing mostly impromptu numbers.
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Australian Dictionary of Biography
Jack Lumsdaine was best known for his work on the Australian popular music scene from the 1920s. He worked as a composer, singer, jazz pianist, accompanist, conductor, songwriter, and news reader. Many of his compositions were published, and even recorded by artists such as Peter Dawson. Lumsdaine's foundational musical experiences came from his childhood home. His mother, a music teacher, taught him piano and singing. He later attended St Andrew's Cathedral School, Sydney, where he was a chorister and student of piano and organ. Lumsdaine saw military service during WW1 in France with the Australian Imperial Force. Exposure to gas harmed his health and voice - he later became known as the "Whispering Baritone" - and he was removed to England to work as a paymaster and unofficial entertainer for troops.
After marrying and returning to Australia, Lumsdaine worked for the publishers Allans (Melbourne) and J. Albert and Son (Sydney). Here he was given some critical opportunities to influence public taste. His role was to advise these companies on suitable music from overseas for publication, and to tour theatres in Australia and New Zealand promoting those works, and his own, by performing before feature films. Lumsdaine broadened his public exposure by working as a composer, arranger, and performer on Australia's most influential vaudeville circuit, the Tivoli, and as an announcer on Fox Movietone newsreels. He also worked on numerous variety programmes with 2GB and the Colgate-Palmolive Radio Unit. In 1926 Lumsdaine began a successful radio programme called "Music while you wait on 2FC". Listeners called in to suggest song titles. For these he created words and music and performed the new work within half an hour.
Like those of his contemporary Jack O'Hagan, Lumsdaine's songs typically uphold popular myths about Australia and its way of life, including lyrics about Australian towns (Wodonga), war (Digger), picturesque landscapes (Aussie Rose - " that grows where the Murray flows"), and domestic themes (Banish the Budget Blues).