is safe to say that until 1900 no artist of any stature made commercial records.
The only seeming exception was Ellen Beach Yaw, who cut several sides for
Berliner's Gramophone in March 1899. But hers is the exception that proves the
rule. Promoted as "Lark Ellen," Miss Yaw apparently was known more as a vocal
gymnast than as a serious artist. Indeed, she is believed to have sung only two
opera performances in her life. Among her dubious talents were an ability to
sing an octave higher than normal soprano range and to perform a trill in thirds
rather than seconds... her records illustrate these
feats but little else. Surely, Lark Ellen was promoted not as a serious artist
but as a freak curiosity, comparable to the boxing dogs, butterfly dances and
occasional trick films that crowd early movie catalogues.
[ From ClassicalNotes.net ]