The Starr Piano Company, based in Richmond, Indiana, quickly became one of the largest piano manufacturers in the United States during the 19th century. In 1915, the Starr Piano Company opened a recording division, Gennett Records, that led to a dynamic change in the music industry and American culture. Gennett embraced the vastly under-recorded genres of jazz, blues, and country music in the 1920s. They recorded artists who were groundbreakers and innovators in both popular and vernacular music, including Louis Armstrong, Charley Patton, Gene Autry, Hoagy Carmichael, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Uncle Dave Macon, and Jelly Roll Morton, often for the first time. The company, like many others, suffered a steep decline in the sale of their pianos and records due to the Great Depression, but the music recorded at Gennett continues to reach new generations and influence musicians as they discover it on reissues and streaming media services.
About the Author
Charlie B. Dahan is a professor in the recording industry department at Middle Tennessee State University, where he is pursuing a PhD in public history. He writes a daily blog and is coauthoring a discography about Gennett Records. Linda Gennett Irmscher is a great-granddaughter of Henry Gennett and an avid collector of Gennett Records and Starr Piano memorabilia.
Table of Contents
1 The Rise of Starr Piano: 1872-1915 9
2 The Birth of a Record Company: 1916-1922 39
3 Jazz Me Blues: 1923-1929 63
4 Depression Blues: 1930-1969 97
5 Once There Was Music Here: 1970-2016 113
Selected Index 127