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Race music

Related: 1890s - 1900s - 1910s - 1920s - 1930s - 1940s - race - black music - American music - race movies - R & B

The term "Rhythm and Blues" was coined in 1947 by Jerry Wexler as a replacement for the terms "race music" "sepia music" and "Harlem Hits Parade" during a reorganization of the Billboard charts

Paramount records advertisement
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Black Swan records was the first record label to be owned and operated by, and marketed to, African Americans
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Okeh records advertisement
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"race music" (the music industry code name for rhythm and blues) outlets and was rarely heard by mainstream white audiences. In 1951, Cleveland, Ohio disc jockey Alan Freed would begin playing this type of music for his white audience, and it is Freed who is credited with coining the phrase "rock and roll" to describe the rollicking R&B music that he brought to the airwaves. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_and_roll#Precursors_and_origins [Mar 2006]

Blues became a part of American popular music in the 1920s, when classic female blues singers like Bessie Smith grew very popular. At the same time, record companies launched the field of race music, which was mostly blues targeted at African American audiences. The most famous of these acts went on to inspire much of the later popular development of the blues and blues-derived genres, including the legendary Robert Johnson. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_the_United_States#Blues_and_gospel [Mar 2006]

See also: 1910s - 1920s - black music - black music - American music - R & B

Paramount Records

The Paramount Record pressing plant was contracted to press discs for Black Swan Records. When that later company floundered, Paramount bought out Black Swan and thus got into the business of making recordings by and for African-Americans. These so-called "race music" records became Paramount's most famous and lucrative business.

Most of Paramount's race music recordings were arranged by Black entrepreneur Mayo Williams. Mayo had no official position with Paramount, but was given wide latitude to bring African-American talent to Paramount recording studios and to market Paramount records to African-American consumers. Williams did not know at the time that the "race market" had become Paramount's prime business, and he was essentially keeping the label afloat. In 1927, Williams moved to competitor OKeh records, taking Blind Lemon Jefferson with him for just one recording, the now classic Matchbox Blues. Once again, Paramount's recording of the same song can be compared with OKeh's on compilation albums, to Paramount's detriment. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paramount_Records [Mar 2006]

Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry 1891-1922 (2005) - Various Artists

Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry 1891-1922 (2005) - Various Artists [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Product Description
If you believe Robert Johnson was the first to play rock ’n’ roll, listen up. Records made by African-American artists in the 1890s anticipated by decades the essentials of jazz, rhythm and blues, rock ’n’ roll—and yes, even Robert Johnson.

Unlike the pioneer blues and jazzmen of the 1920s—whose contributions to American music are duly documented and appreciated today—the achievements of their forgotten predecessors are all but erased from history: the sound too limited, the grooves too noisy, the words too painful.

Tim Brooks brought the Lost Sounds of these pioneer black performers to our notice with the publication of his groundbreaking book. Archeophone brings these Lost Sounds to life with the release of this CD. And none too soon, as the precious few sounds that have survived a century of neglect are fading fast.

Those experienced with pioneer recordings are in for some surprises, as most are reissued here for the first time. And those who are not . . . you’ve not heard anything like them before. Many are not easy to listen to. But they are worth the effort, as they let us hear—as close to first hand as possible—the forgotten black artists who contributed so significantly to American music and culture. Your view of history is about to be rocked. --via Amazon.com

Stomp and Swerve (2003) - David Wondrich

Stomp and Swerve: American Music Gets Hot, 1843-1924 (2003) - David Wondrich [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Hot American music, says Wondrich, has drive and swerve. Drive is the strong rhythmic component that gets the feet stomping. Swerve is the spontaneous bending of tempo, swinging of the beat, and embellishment of the musical line. Beginning with the minstrels who played "Negro" music on stage in blackface in a spirit of parody, Wondrich traces the evolution of hot music into ragtime ("Coon" music, it was called), blues, and jazz. Scottish and Irish music influenced minstrel music, just as Afro-Caribbean music influenced the blues and jazz--the acme of hot music. Unknown rural people and people in the (noncriminal) "Underworld" developed these musical styles, and the "Topworld" embraced this music as it came to reflect on general social conditions. Much later hot music is preserved on sound recordings, which Wondrich references while discussing major performers and composers (a CD containing some of the music will be released simultaneously with the book). Aside from his use of vernacular expletives to express strong opinions, Wondrich provides good guidance as the music gets hotter. --Alan Hirsch, Copyright © American Library Association.

The early decades of American popular music-Stephen Foster, Scott Joplin, John Philip Sousa, Enrico Caruso-are, for most listeners, the dark ages. It wasn't until the mid-1920s that the full spectrum of this music-black and white, urban and rural, sophisticated and crude-made it onto records for all to hear. This book brings a forgotten music, hot music, to life by describing how it became the dominant American music-how it outlasted sentimental waltzes and parlor ballads, symphonic marches and Tin Pan Alley novelty numbers-and how it became rock 'n' roll. It reveals that the young men and women of that bygone era had the same musical instincts as their descendants Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and even Ozzy Osbourne. In minstrelsy, ragtime, brass bands, early jazz and blues, fiddle music, and many other forms, there was as much stomping and swerving as can be found in the most exciting performances of hot jazz, funk, and rock. Along the way, it explains how the strange combination of African with Scotch and Irish influences made music in the United States vastly different from other African and Caribbean musics; shares terrific stories about minstrel shows, "coon" songs, whorehouses, knife fights, and other low-life phenomena; and showcases a motley collection of performers heretofore unknown to all but the most avid musicologists and collectors. --Book Description

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