April 4, 2012
The Archives of Traditional Music has partnered with the Starr Gennett Foundation of Richmond, Indiana to house and provide access to the foundation's collection of Starr Gennett 78 rpm recordings. This partnership will add 400 recordings to the several hundred Starr Gennett discs already in the ATM, creating a new Starr Gennett Collection comprised of commercial discs released under various labels by the Richmond, Indiana based Starr Gennett piano company.
Formed in 1872 as a piano manufacturing company, the business had expanded by 1915 to include the manufacture of phonographs and the recording and pressing of 78 rpm discs. The studio based in the small industrial town in eastern Indiana made the first recordings of some of the most important popular entertainers and vernacular musicians of the 20th century: King Oliver and Louis Armstrong, Charlie Patton, Gene Autry, Hoagy Carmichael, the Friars' Society Orchestra (The New Orleans Rhythm Kings), Thomas Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Mary Lou Williams, Coleman Hawkins, Bix Beiderbecke, William Jennings Bryan, Fats Waller, Alberta Hunter, Bradley Kincaid, and many others. Most of the performers recorded there did not achieve lasting recognition, but they represent an incredibly diverse set of musical and entertainment genres from the 1910s to the 1930s. The company also manufactured discs under a wide variety of discount labels such as Champion and later pressed discs for Decca and Mercury in the 1960s.