Though she is best known for her role as Nettie Fowler in the first Broadway production of Rodgers' & Hammerstein's Carousel, this musical theater performer also had a career as a contralto with the Metropolitan Opera.
After graduating from high school, she trained at the Nashville Conservatory of Music and subsequently began her singing career as a local radio performer.
In the early 1940s, she became the youngest Metropolitan Opera singer to have ever taken on the part of Erda in the Richard Wagner opera Das Rheingold.
After ending her Broadway and Metropolitan Opera careers, she settled in her hometown of Owensboro, Kentucky; married a physician named Robert Smith; and raised daughters named Nancy and Robin.
At one point, she was the singing coach of actress Florence Henderson.