6 comments on “Have You Dug the Symphonopop Scene?

  1. Yeah, I marketed a 45 by “Jonna Gault: Sincomperneer” on eBay recently. One side, “What’s the Use” was palatable, as I recall. I thought it was up on YT but it isn’t now. The flip, “I’m Never Gonna Cry Again”, is, and that is probably what you referred to as saccharine, girl-pop. Kind of peculiar the way she vanished.

  2. The earlier 45 I have is ‘From My Window’ and it could charitably be described as cloying.
    The RCA stuff is interesting enough that her dropping off the musical map is all the more odd.
    I’ve actually found a lot to like in early to mid 60s female pop, especially where it crosses into soul, or rock, or even higher concept pop.
    Singers like Evie Sands, and even later Lesley Gore like ‘California Nights’ that manage to confound expectations.
    I know there’s more out there too, I just have to learn about it.

  3. Gault gave quite an extensive interview in 1982 in connection with the debut of a musical that she wrote called “Walls”. The article indicated that it was “Broadway-bound” but apparently never made it that far. Anyway, the article gives lots of details about her abbreviated recording career and enough biographical detail to trace her present whereabouts (which I was not inclined to do).

    If the following link doesn’t work, just google: “Jonna Gault” “Walls”


  4. I finally had a chance to listen to the entire “Watch Me” album on spotify and I have to commend you on a very spot-on review of this album. The reference to “That Girl” was particularly apt – just as that TV show seemed to be Old Hollywood’s idea of a hip young 1960’s woman, “Watch Me” sounds like an older person’s idea of the hip young 1960’s music scene. Very odd since it came from such a young artist who presumably had grown up on rock and roll.

    I felt a tinge of sadness that this album did not generate more attention, so I did some more research into Jonna Gault’s past. I mean, how could a prodigy produce an album like this and then completely disappear as a performer?

    Well, it turns out that Jonna was not so young after all. Though the publicity at the time indicated that she was 21 (even referring to her as a “young girl” in the album notes), she had in fact turned 30 by the time the album was released in November 1968. So this album wasn’t so much an album debut as it was the culmination of an extended attempt at recording success. This album didn’t chart just as all of her singles from 1962 on had not charted, so I guess she called it quits as a singer. Here’s a summary of the info that I found:

    – Roberta Mae Silvanoff was born on September 2, 1938 in Boston, Massachusetts (year of birth verified on 1940 Census and 1965 marriage record).

    – Attended UCLA (she’s listed in a 1956 yearbook), but dropped out before graduating and began singing under the name “Roberta Day” and with her group “Roberta Day and Her Knights”. You can find scattered and brief references on the web to the group’s live performances in 1959 and 1960.

    – Began a solo recording and songwriting career as Roberta Day (or Daye) in 1962 and continued to release singles thru 1964, but none of her records made it to a Billboard chart.

    – After marrying in 1965, began using (but did not record under) the name Roberta Phillips.

    – Re-surfaced in 1966 with the name of “Jonna Gault”. She was now publicized as a 19 year old (suggesting she was born in 1947 instead of 1938). Here’s an article on the re-branded (and brand new) Jonna Gault (see page 8):

    Click to access 13aug66.pdf

    – Released several singles and the album “Watch Me” under the name Jonna Gault, but again failed to chart. She continued to perform in promotion of the album into 1969, and as best as I can tell that was the end of her career as a performer and recording artist.

    – As noted in my previous post, Gault re-surfaced in 1982 as the playwright and composer of a stage musical titled “Walls” which debuted with a 3-week run in Florida. I could not find any indication that the musical was subsequently performed elsewhere.

    – I could not find any further entertainment news on Gault after 1982. Roberta Phillips is still alive at age 76 and living in Southern California.

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