Secret Sound is a podcast and research project focusing on the esoteric history of American music, from the 18th century to the 20th century. For over 10 years host Matt Marble has been researching marginalized American artists and the esoteric traditions that have empowered their work. From psychic pianists to prophetic instrument-makers, these artists have found inspiration from deep within and far, far away, often musically expressing themselves in experimental and imaginative ways. While through the inner affirmations and progressive social values operative across many esoteric traditions, this history is also naturally diverse, being explicitly inclusive of women, people of color, and LGBTQ artists. 

Each episode focuses on a single artist and explores their biography, creative process, musical works, and spiritual influences. Along the way, listeners are introduced to diverse esoteric traditions, such as Theosophy, spiritualism, Obeah, Enochian Magic, and more. We’ll also explore aspects of American history and society as broader contexts to these traditions and the artists drawn to them.

All episodes are free to stream or download. Also available on iTunes and Spotify.

For more info or to schedule presentations/interviews, contact: scrtsnd@gmail.com


Check out the 2-hour music special I made for Dublab radio: LISTEN


Explore some of the rare historical documents from my personal library: LOOK


 

* Every donation (see, "donate" button above) helps to sustain and enhance Secret Sound, both the podcast and related writing/publication. Much of my research is dependent upon rare documents and recordings; while other archival sources are not always easy for me to access or financially maintain. Anything you are willing to offer is deeply appreciated and will come back to you through upcoming episodes. THANK YOU!

#42 - The Coloratura of Celestial Choice - Amelita Galli-Curci 

Welcome to episode 42, "The Coloratura of Celestial Choice," featuring Spanish-Italian American opera singer, Amelita Galli-Curci (1882-1963). Through her opera career she accrued international renown and fortune, but this was cut short by a vocal injury in the 1930s. While…

#41 - The Ghost Dance - Wovoka 

Welcome to Episode 41, "The Ghost Dance," featuring Native American prophet Wovoka (1856-1932). A descendent of the Numu language family and Paiute tribe in Nevada, Wovoka had a vision in 1889 in which he visited heaven and communed with the…

#40 - The Prophet of Swing - Vincent Lopez 

Welcome to episode 40, "The Prophet of Swing," featuring Portuguese American pianist, bandleader, numerologist, and metaphysical philosopher Vincent Lopez (1895-1975). Raised in an extreme Roman Catholic home, Lopez left the monastic path for ragtime piano as a child. One of…

#39 - The Everlasting Gospel Revelation - Sister Gertrude Morgan 

Welcome to episode 39, "The Everlasting Gospel Revelation," featuring preacher, painter, and musician, Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980). Raised in a poor Baptist family in Alabama, a series of divine revelations lead Sister Morgan to paint, sing, and preach in the…

#38 - The Black Hawk Chant - Mothers Leafy Anderson and Catherine Seals 

Welcome to episode #38, "The Black Hawk Chant," featuring Mother Leafy Anderson (1887-1927) and Mother Catherine Seals (1874-1930). Coming from Chicago to New Orleans, Anderson founded her own church, which fused spiritualism, Catholicism, and jazz into her services, while seeking…

#37 - Singing for the Orishas - Merceditas Valdes 

Welcome to episode 37, "Singing for the Orishas," featuring Afro-Cuban Santería/Lucumí singer, Merceditas Valdes (1922-1996). Raised in a musical household alongisde Yoruba and Cuban traditions, Valdez took to Afro-Cuban Lucumí music and religious practice as a teenager in Havana. Working…

#36 - The Mahatma of Manhattan - Louis M. Eilshemius 

Welcome to episode 36, “The Mahatma of Manhattan,” featuring painter, author, publisher, and composer, Louis M. Eilshemius (1864-1941). Now marginally known for his idiosyncratic paintings of nudes and landscapes, Eilshemius spent most of his life being mocked and ignored, until…

#35 - The Quantum Heart - Harley Gaber 

Welcome to episode 35, “The Quantum Heart,” featuring composer, multi-media artist, and tennis player Harley Gaber (1943-2011). Gaber’s music was deeply informed by his study of Buddhism and Taoism, as well as his lifelong interest in quantum physics. He is…

#34 - Service Through Sound - Evelyn Benham-Bull 

Welcome to episode 34, "Service Through Sound," featuring composer, author, Theosophist, and music therapist Evelyn Benham-Bull (1897-1983). Almost entirely forgotten, Benham-Bull was an active composer in the 20s and 30s before shifting her focus to practicing and teaching music therapy…

#33 - The Godmother of Music Therapy - Eva Augusta Vescelius 

Welcome to episode 33, "The Godmother of Music Therapy," featuring opera singer, New Thought philosopher, and pioneering music therapist, Eva Augusta Vescelius (1853-1917). After co-founding the family-run Vescelius Opera Company and touring the world for over a decade, Vescelius’ interest…

#32 - The Queen of Number-Vibration - Sarah Joanna Balliett 

Welcome to episode 32, “The Queen of Number-Vibration” featuring New Jersey author, feminist, and pioneer of American numerology, Sarah Joanna Balliett (1847?-1929)—though she is better known by her husband’s name as Mrs. L. Dow Balliett. Synthesizing occult numerology, Pythagorean and…

#31 - The Oracle of the East Village - Harry Smith 

Welcome to Episode 31, “The Oracle of the East Village,” featuring filmmaker, painter, musical ethnographer, and occult magician, Harry Smith (1923-1991). Smith is best known for his influential 6-LP Anthology of American Folk Music, as well as his experimental films…