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 have two handicaps, I am a woman and I have some Negro blood in my veins.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2020-06-18 00:31Z by Steven

[Florence] Price and her music were well received in Chicago. The great contralto Marian Anderson closed her legendary 1939 Lincoln Memorial concert with a piece arranged by Price. Still, she scraped to make ends meet, writing pop tunes and accompanying silent films. In 1943, she sent a letter to Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, acknowledging what she was up against. “I have two handicaps,” she wrote: “I am a woman and I have some Negro blood in my veins.”

Tom Huizenga, “Revisiting The Pioneering Composer Florence Price,” All Things Considered, National Public Radio, January 21, 2019. https://www.npr.org/2019/01/21/686622572/revisiting-the-pioneering-composer-florence-price.

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Revisiting The Pioneering Composer Florence Price

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2020-06-18 00:10Z by Steven

Revisiting The Pioneering Composer Florence Price

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2019-01-21

Tom Huizenga, Music Producer


Florence Price was the first African-American woman to have her music performed by a major symphony orchestra.
Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries

In 1933, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra gave the world premiere of Symphony No. 1 by a then little-known composer named Florence Price. The performance marked the first time a major orchestra played music by an African-American woman.

Price’s First Symphony, along with her Fourth, has just been released on an album featuring the Fort Smith Symphony, conducted by John Jeter.

Fans of Price, especially in the African-American community, may argue that her music has never really been forgotten. But some of it has been lost. Not long ago, a couple bought a fixer-upper, south of Chicago, and discovered nearly 30 boxes of manuscripts and papers. Among the discoveries in what turned out to be Price’s abandoned summer home was her Fourth Symphony, composed in 1945. This world-premiere recording is another new piece of the puzzle to understanding the life and music of Price, and a particular time in America’s cultural history.

Read the story here. Listen to the story (00:04:00) here.

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How The U.S. Defines Race And Ethnicity May Change Under Trump

Posted in Articles, Audio, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-11-23 16:51Z by Steven

How The U.S. Defines Race And Ethnicity May Change Under Trump

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2017-11-23

Hansi Lo Wang


The Trump administration is expected to announce possible changes to how the U.S. government collects information about race and ethnicity by Dec. 1.
Chelsea Beck/NPR

Some major changes may be coming to how the U.S. government collects data about the country’s racial and ethnic makeup.

The Trump administration has been considering proposals to ask about race and ethnicity in a radical new way on the 2020 Census and other surveys that follow standards set by the White House.

Introduced when President Obama was still in office, the proposed changes could result in a fundamental shift in how the government counts the Latino population.

Another proposal would create a new checkbox on the census form for people with roots in the Middle East or North Africa, or MENA, which would be the first ethnic or racial category to be added in decades.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget is expected to release a decision on these proposals by Dec. 1, but an announcement may come out before the end of the month…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the story here. Read the transcript here.

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Descendants Of Native American Slaves In New Mexico Emerge From Obscurity

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2016-12-30 02:32Z by Steven

Descendants Of Native American Slaves In New Mexico Emerge From Obscurity

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2016-12-29

John Burnett, Southwest Correspondent, National Desk


Santo Tomas Catholic church in Abiquiu, N.M., is the site of an annual saint’s day celebration in late November that includes cultural elements of the genizaros, the descendants of Native American slaves.
John Burnett/NPR

Every year in late November, the New Mexican village of Abiquiu, about an hour northwest of Santa Fe, celebrates the town saint, Santo Tomas. Townfolk file into the beautiful old adobe Catholic church to pay homage its namesake.

But this is no ordinary saint’s day. Dancers at the front of the church are dressed in feathers, face paint and ankle bells that honor their forbears — captive Indian slaves called genizaros.

The dances and chants are Native American, but they don’t take place on a Pueblo Indian reservation. Instead, they’re performed in a genizaro community, one of several scattered across the starkly beautiful high desert of northern New Mexico.

After centuries in the shadows, this group of mixed-race New Mexicans — Hispanic and American Indian — is stepping forward to seek recognition…

Read the entire story here. Download the story (00:05:04) here.

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From Her Dad To Her ‘Jamish’ Roots, A Poet Pieces Her Story Together

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-12-11 18:26Z by Steven

From Her Dad To Her ‘Jamish’ Roots, A Poet Pieces Her Story Together

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2014-12-28

Arun Rath, Host

Growing up in 1970s England, Salena Godden stood out. Her mother was Jamaican and her father was an Irish jazz musician who mysteriously disappeared from her life when she was very young.

In her memoir, Springfield Road, the writer, poet and musician tells the story of finding her personal identity, beginning with the word she made up to describe her race: Jamish.

“It’s kind of … a mix of being Jamaican, Irish, English,” she tells NPR’s Arun Rath. “It’s the name I gave myself.”…

Read the story here. Download the interview (00:06:15) here. Read the transcript here.

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Skin Color Still Plays Big Role In Ethnically Diverse Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-08-22 21:49Z by Steven

Skin Color Still Plays Big Role In Ethnically Diverse Brazil

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2013-09-19

Audie Cornish, Host

Melissa Block visits a historic section of Rio de Janeiro that pays homage to Afro-Brazilian history and the many slaves that came ashore there. She talks with Brazilian filmmaker Joel Zito Araujo about what it means to be black or mixed race in Brazil, and how skin color still dictates many aspects of life.


Download the story here. Read the transcript here.

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Halloween Costume Emails Stokes Debate At Yale

Posted in Audio, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-10 02:05Z by Steven

Halloween Costume Emails Stokes Debate At Yale

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2015-11-09

Audie Cornish, Host

Yale University is in turmoil after a series of emails about culturally insensitive Halloween costumes. Some students there are protesting what they say is a hostile environment for students of color. Sebi Median-Tayac [Aaron Z. Lewis], one of the leaders of the protest, speaks with NPR’s Audie Cornish.

Listen to the story (00:03:58) here. Download the story here. Read the transcript here.

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Rachel Dolezal’s Story Sparks Questions About ‘How People Experience Race’

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-18 20:09Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal’s Story Sparks Questions About ‘How People Experience Race’

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2015-06-16

Audie Cornish, Host

Khadijah White, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media Studies
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of History
Stanford University

NPR’s Audie Cornish talks with Rutgers University professor Khadijah White and Allyson Hobbs, who wrote a book about the history of racial passing, about the former head of the NAACP in Spokane, Wash.

Listen to the story here. Download the story here. Read the transcript here.

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One Playwright’s ‘Obligation’ To Confront Race And Identity In The U.S.

Posted in Arts, Audio, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-02-18 03:25Z by Steven

One Playwright’s ‘Obligation’ To Confront Race And Identity In The U.S.

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2015-02-16

Jeff Lunden

Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins may be only 30 years old, but he’s already compiled an impressive resume. His theatrical works, which look at race and identity in America, have been performed in New York and around the country. Last year, Jacobs-Jenkins won the best new American play Obie Award for two of his works, Appropriate and An Octoroon.

An Octoroon is currently playing at Theater for a New Audience in New York…

…Over the past five years, the young playwright has written a trilogy of highly provocative and fantastical explorations of race in America. In Neighbors, a family of minstrels in blackface moves in next to a contemporary mixed-race family. In Appropriate, a white family discovers their dead father belonged to the KKK. His latest, An Octoroon, is a loose adaptation of a play written more than 150 years ago that deals with identity and race.

“They are all kind of like me dealing with something very specific, which has to do with the history of theater and blackness in America and form,” he says. “And also, my obligation, as a human being with regards to any of these themes.”

It is Jacob-Jenkins’ self-examination that drove Ben Brantley, the chief drama critic for The New York Times, to rank An Octoroon on the top of his best pays list last year. He saw it at Soho Rep, a tiny off-Broadway theater.

“[Jacobs-Jenkins] starts off from self-consciousness, which you would think would be a crippling place for a playwright to begin,” Brantley says.”But his self-consciousness isn’t just particular; it’s national, it’s universal. And it’s the self-consciousness of realizing that we don’t have the vocabulary, the tools to discuss race.”

The play, based on a 1859 melodrama by the Irish-Anglo playwright Dion Boucicault, tells the story of a young man who’s about to inherit a plantation and falls in love with a woman who is an octoroon — seven-eighths white, one-eighth black.

Director Sarah Benson points out that, in the original, all the parts had to be played by white actors…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the story here. Download the audio here. Read the transcript here.

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