Blues & Gospel Records, 1890-1943

Front Cover
Clarendon Press, 1997 - Music - 1370 pages
Since its first edition in 1964, Dixon and Godrich's Blues and Gospel Records has been dubbed "the bible" for collectors of pre-war African American music. It provides an exhaustive listing of all recordings made up to the end of 1943 in a distinctively African American style, excluding those customarily classed as jazz (which are the subject of separate discographies).

The book covers recordings made for the commercial market (whether issued at the time or not) and also recordings made for the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Song and similar bodies--about 20,000 titles in all, by more than 3,000 artists.

For each recording session, full details are given of:

artist credit


place and date of recording


issuing company and catalogue numbers

matrix numbers

alternative takes
There are also short accounts of the major "race labels" that recorded blues and gospel material, and a complete list of field trips to the south by travelling recording units.

Howard Rye has joined the original compilers for this thoroughly revised, enlarged, and reset fourth edition. The scope has been widened by the addition of about 150 new artists in addition to newly discovered recordings by other artists. The compilation now includes recordings by groups such as the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the Pace Jubilee Singers, and the Tuskegee Institute Singers, who, although they employed African American materials and musical devices, were designed to appeal to a predominantly white audience. Early cylinder recordings of gospel music from the 1890s are included for the first time.

Previous editions of this work are applauded for their completeness, accuracy, and reliability. This has now been enhanced by the addition of new information from record labels and from record company files, and by listening to a wide selection of titles, and detailed cross checking.

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About the author (1997)

The compilers of this volume come from a mixture of backgrounds. Robert M. W. Dixon is Director of the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at the Australian National University. He has done original field research on the indigenous languages of Australia, Fiji, and Amazonia, besides writing A New Approach to English Grammar: On Semantic Principles (Clarendon Press, 1991). The late John Godrich was in the Merchant Navy and then worked as a clerk at Swansea Docks. Howard Rye, who like Dixon is an Oxford graduate, is an independent scholar of jazz and blues. He is principal researcher for the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz and is a regular contributor to jazz and blues publications. From 1980 to 1995, he was editor of Collectors Items.

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