Florence Foster Jenkins

Before William Hung, there was a woman who defined bad singing and made it possible for 'America's got talent' and 'American Idol' to reap the souls of the innocent. She went above and beyond to promote her non existent talent.

Her most famous quote - 'People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing'

Just The Facts

  1. Her singing career was actively discouraged by both of her parents so she ran off and eloped with Frank Thorton Jenkins
  2. Her singing career was actively discouraged by her husband so she divorced him and took up a teaching career
  3. She received a substantial inheritance from her parents upon their death, apparently they forgot to put in the 'no singing' clause

The woman

Born Florence Foster, she was given music lessons as a child, and after they determined that she had no discertable talent, her wealthy father simply refused to pay for the lessons. Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, it only furthered her desire to be involved in music. She eloped with a medical doctor, Frank Thorton Jenkins. Upon hearing what she thought was a good performance, Frank refused to pay for music lessons either. Mrs. Foster Jenkins then divorced her husband and took of teaching and piano playing to pay the bills.

Her big break

Her father died, giving her enough money to do what she wanted. She received an inheritance and used it to get her big break. She immediatly went against all advice and became involved in music scene in Philadelphia and later in New York City. In 1912 she gave her first recital, and after her mother died in 1928 and left her more money, she continued her singing with a passion.

Her Career

Mrs Jenkins had an accompianist, Cosme McMoon, who was given the arguable privledge of working with her for her yearly recitails. Mrs Jenkins was reknowned for her complete lack of pitch, rhythm, ability to substain a note and anything vaguely resembling talent.

Mrs Jenkins actually recorded nine arias on five 78 rpm records. Despite that concrete proof of her murder of some of the most beloved operas by Mozart, Brahms, Strauss, and Verdi, she was always confident in her own talent. When confronted with the laughter that was always present at her performances, she dismissed it as professional jealousy. The laughter may have had something to do with her voice sounding like a strangled cat, or her propensity to dress up in elaborate costumes that often included winges, tiara, and tinsel.


Her greatest accomplishment was a performance at Carnegie Hall, the holy grail of singing halls. She had always controlled who attended her recitals, so many fans of her singing could not attend because they did not know her. The tickets for her Carnegie Hall performace were sold out weeks prior to her performance.

Despite all of the critics, and all of the laughter, all indications are that she died with a happy and confident sense of fulfillment, and was sure in every way that she had contributed to the musical repotair for years to come