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Shepard, Jesse F. (California, late 19th, early 20th Century): Trance Medium, Music Medium
Institution / Country:USA

A musical medium, Jesse F. Shepard, an American from California, performed on the piano in Great Britain, Australia, France, Russia, Germany, the United States, and other countries, often before royalty. He also sang and it was said that his voice filled cathedrals. However, he performed mostly in the dark and always while in a trance state. Occasionally, the piano could be seen playing without Shepard’s hands on it. In the normal (non-trance) state, he could neither play nor sing.

Reporting on a performance that took place on September 3, 1893, Prince Adam Wisniewski stated that the second piece played by Shepard that night was a rhapsody for four hands, by Liszt and Thalberg. “Notwithstanding this extra ordinarily complex technique, the harmony was admirable, and such as no one present had ever known paralleled, even by Liszt himself, whom I personally knew, and in whom passion and delicacy were united. In the circle were musicians who, like me, had heard the greatest pianists in Europe, but we can say that we never heard such truly supernatural execution.”

Of Shepard’s voice, Professor M. Bernardin Rahn said that it was very unique. “There is no imitation of it possible,” he added. “The compass of the voice can have nothing likened to it. A bass of profound depth, full expression, is first heard. Thereupon it is answered by a soprano, which attains the utmost heights with clear and thrilling notes. Brilliant shakes follow the most amazing staccato.”

According to Professor J. Kiddle of New York, Shepard was not only a gifted trance musician, but also gave trance addresses in English, French, German, Latin, Greek, Chaldean, and Arabic, dealing with scientific, philosophical, and social subjects.

He also wrote two volumes of discourses. Renowned Belgian author Maurice Maeterlinck, the 1911 Nobel Prize winner in literature, said that he knew of nothing in literature more admirable or more profound.

Text and photo of Jesse Shepard courtesy of Michael Tymn, author of The Articulate Dead where Michael examines several of the best mediums of yesteryear and the scientific research surrounding them.