Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919
Awards and Recognition:
Winner of an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, 2005. Winner of the ARSC Award for Best Research in General History of Recorded Sound, 2005. Winner of the Irving Lowens Award, given by the Society for American Music for the best work published in 2004 in the field of American music. Tim Brooks received the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) Lifetime Achievement Award, 2004.
Biographies of the first African-American recording stars, and how they succeeded against tremendous odds
Available in paperback for the first time, this groundbreaking in-depth history of the involvement of African Americans in the early recording industry examines the first three decades of sound recording in the United States, charting the surprising roles black artists played in the period leading up to the Jazz Age and the remarkably wide range of black music and culture they preserved.
Applying more than thirty years of scholarship, Tim Brooks identifies key black artists who recorded commercially and provides illuminating biographies for some forty of these audio pioneers. Brooks assesses the careers and recordings of George W. Johnson, Bert Williams, George Walker, Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, W. C. Handy, James Reese Europe, Wilbur Sweatman, Harry T. Burleigh, Roland Hayes, Booker T. Washington, and boxing champion Jack Johnson, as well as a host of lesser-known voices. Many of these pioneers faced a difficult struggle to be heard in an era of rampant discrimination and "the color line," and their stories illuminate the forces––both black and white––that gradually allowed African Americans greater entree into the mainstream American entertainment industry. The book also discusses how many of these historic recordings are withheld from the public today because of stringent U.S. copyright laws.
Lost Sounds includes Brooks's selected discography of CD reissues, and an appendix by Dick Spottswood describing early recordings by black artists in the Caribbean and South America.
"An act of cultural reclamation--the great lost heroes of black performance."--New York Times
"Brooks brings both passion and compassion to the story of the black pioneers who worked as performers and entrepreneurs in the nascent U.S. recording industry."--Business History Review
"The authors are ardent scholars . . . the thorough bibliography demonstrates the scope and intensity of the research. This is a welcome contribution to the literature on the African American story, primarily in music but in other disciplines as well."--Choice
"Lost Sounds is a thrilling book; it is rare to encounter a work of this length that supplies so much new information, causing us to reevaluate and reinterpret our understanding of American music and social history."--Current Musicology
"A monumental achievement in research and sheds light on overlooked aspects of turn-of-the-century popular culture."--Technology and Culture
"Tim Brooks has drawn on a staggering array of primary sources to create this wonderful compendium of information. Lost Sounds makes a significant contribution to the field."--Norm Cohen, author of Traditional Anglo-American Folk Music: An Annotated Discography of Published Recordings
"Brooks has uncovered a wealth of fascinating detail about the record business, its artists, and the range of music they recorded 100 years ago. This engaging work of thorough scholarship is essential reading for anyone interested in the birth of commercial recording and African American music in the early part of the 20th century."--Samuel Brylawski, Head, Recorded Sound Section, Library of Congress
Supported by the Henry and Edna Binkele Classical Music Fund
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