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Race Records and the American Recording
Industry, 1919–1945

An Illustrated History


Allan Sutton

Race Records and the American Recording Industry 1919-1945
378 Total pages • 208 Illustrations
6" x 9" Quality Softcover

ISBN 978-0-9973333-0-5

From the author of Recording the 'Twenties, a fresh and unflinching look at the companies and individuals — black and white — who defied racial prejudice and long-entrenched business practices to make records for the long-overlooked African American market.

Race Records and the American Recording Industry debunks the old tales and explores the full spectrum of race records — from jazz, blues, and gospel to comedy and novelty numbers, mainstream pop, the classics, and even the occasional country-music offering.

The primary focus is on the making, marketing, and distribution of race records prior to the late 1940s — exploring the ways in which those activities affected, and were affected by, conditions within the entertainment and recording industries as a whole — as seen within the context of the social attitudes, economic conditions, and changing musical tastes of the times.

Based on over ten years’ research of primary-source materials, including period trade journals, news reports, interviews, and original record company files, Race Records is a meticulously documented and richly illustrated study.


Preface / Introduction / A Note on Usage
1 •  The First Race Record Producer (1919–1921)
2 •  “Crazy Blues” (1920–1921)
3 •   The Blues Craze (1921–1922)
4 •  “The Only Record Made by Colored People” (1921–1924)
5 •   Other Early Black Entrepreneurs (1921–1924)
6 •   Mass-Producing the Blues (1923–1924)
7 •   “The Quality Race Record” (1923–1925)
8 •   Into the Heartland (1923–1924)
9 •   Empress of the Blues (1923–1924)
10 • Classic Blues and Country Roots (1923–1925)
11 • Paramount and the Country Blues (1925–1927)
12 • The Major Labels in Transition (1926)
13 • Selling the Country Blues (1927–1928)
14 • The Gennett Clients: Herwin, Black Patti, and Q.R.S.
15 • Shouting Preachers and Singing Evangelists (1926–1929)
16 • Urban Blues, Hokum, and Boogie Woogie (1928–1929)
17 • Boom and Bust (1929)
18 • The Early Depression Years (1930–1933)
19 • Cut-Rate Blues (1932–1936)
20 • The American Record Corporation’s Rise and Demise (1934–1938)
21 • Records on the Rebound (1937–1941)
22 • The War Years (1942–1945)
Appendix I: Dedicated Race-Record Series, 1921–1945
Appendix II: Race-Series Talent Scouts, Talent Brokers, and A&R Managers
Title Index / Subject Index

ALLAN SUTTON is the author of numerous articles and books on vintage records and the early American recording industry, including Pseudonyms on American Records, A Phonograph in Every Home, Recording the 'Twenties, and Recording the 'Thirties. He is the recipient of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections' 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award.

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