Radio Diaries: Harry Pace And The Rise And Fall Of Black Swan Records

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-07-16 18:20Z by Steven

Radio Diaries: Harry Pace And The Rise And Fall Of Black Swan Records

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2021-07-01

Nellie Gilles, Managing Producer at Radio Diaries at Radio Diaries

Mycah Hazel, Radio Diaries Fellow


Harry Pace started the first major Black-owned record label in the U.S., but his achievements went mostly unnoticed until recently, when his descendants uncovered his secret history.
Courtesy of Peter Pace

A century ago, around the dawn of the Harlem Renaissance, New York City was brimming with music. Black artists like Eubie Blake, Florence Mills and Fats Waller were performing in dance halls and nightclubs including Edmond’s Cellar and The Lincoln Theatre.

“Every block between 110th Street and 155th Street buzzed with creative energy,” says journalist Paul Slade, author of Black Swan Blues: the hard rise and brutal fall of America’s first black-owned record label.

Despite that energy, when it came to recording and selling music by Black artists, the opportunities were limited. White-owned record labels — Columbia, Victor, Aeolian, Edison, Paramount — recorded few Black artists at the time, and when they did, it was often limited to novelty songs and minstrelsy.

“They were making a fortune off these negative portrayals of Black people,” says Bill Doggett, a specialist in early recorded sound.

Okeh Records was one of the first labels to break the mold. Perry “Mule” Bradford, a Black composer, pushed Okeh to record Mamie Smith and her song “Crazy Blues” in 1920. The record was a hit and entrepreneur Harry Pace took notice…

Read the entire story here.

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I Color Myself Different

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs, United States on 2021-07-16 14:57Z by Steven

I Color Myself Different

Scholastic
2022-04-05
40 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1338789621

Colin Kaepernick, Eric Wilkerson (Illustrator)

An inspiring story of identity and self-esteem from celebrated athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick.

When Colin Kaepernick was five years old, he was given a simple school assignment: draw a picture of yourself and your family. What young Colin does next with his brown crayon changes his whole world and worldview, providing a valuable lesson on embracing and celebrating his Black identity through the power of radical self-love and knowing your inherent worth.

I Color Myself Different is a joyful ode to Black and Brown lives based on real events in young Colin’s life that is perfect for every reader’s bookshelf. It’s a story of self-discovery, staying true to one’s self, and advocating for change… even when you’re very little!

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Black Swan Blues: The Hard Rise & Brutal Fall of America’s First Black-owned Record Label

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2021-07-16 14:21Z by Steven

Black Swan Blues: The Hard Rise & Brutal Fall of America’s First Black-owned Record Label

PlanetSlade.com
2021-07-03
190 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1527296978
6 x 0.43 x 9 inches

Paul Slade

Forty years before Motown, there was Black Swan. Created by a young Black songwriter called Harry Pace, this pioneering 1920s blues label gave 14 million African-Americans the chance to hear their own authentic music on disc for the first time. Ethel Waters’ Down Home Blues was the label’s first big hit, its sales fuelled by a ground-breaking US tour which made headlines everywhere it touched down. Soon, the exciting new records Pace produced were pulling in white listeners as well as Black, and providing the essential soundtrack at every chic Hollywood party.

But there was danger too. In the Jim Crow South, Waters and her band were cheered to the echo on stage only to have racist insults spat at them in the street outside. In Georgia, the corpse of a young lynching victim was hurled into the lobby of a theatre Waters was just about to play. Pace had to battle a constant stream of dirty tricks from his white rivals, who were determined to sabotage Black Swan at every turn. This is the story of a truly remarkable record label – and of the even more remarkable man who founded it.

This expanded 2021 edition of the book, published to mark the 100th anniversary of Black Swan’s launch, contains a wealth of new information and many fresh insights into both the label’s own story and Harry Pace’s determination to improve African-Americans’ lives.

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