Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919

Front Cover
University of Illinois Press, Feb 24, 2004 - Music - 634 pages
Available in paperback for the first time, this groundbreaking in-depth history of the involvement of African Americans in the early recording industry examines the first three decades of sound recording in the United States, charting the surprising roles black artists played in the period leading up to the Jazz Age and the remarkably wide range of black music and culture they preserved.

Applying more than thirty years of scholarship, Tim Brooks identifies key black artists who recorded commercially and provides illuminating biographies for some forty of these audio pioneers. Brooks assesses the careers and recordings of George W. Johnson, Bert Williams, George Walker, Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, W. C. Handy, James Reese Europe, Wilbur Sweatman, Harry T. Burleigh, Roland Hayes, Booker T. Washington, and boxing champion Jack Johnson, as well as a host of lesser-known voices. Many of these pioneers faced a difficult struggle to be heard in an era of rampant discrimination and "the color line," and their stories illuminate the forces––both black and white––that gradually allowed African Americans greater entree into the mainstream American entertainment industry. The book also discusses how many of these historic recordings are withheld from the public today because of stringent U.S. copyright laws.

Lost Sounds includes Brooks's selected discography of CD reissues, and an appendix by Dick Spottswood describing early recordings by black artists in the Caribbean and South America.

What people are saying - Write a review

Lost sounds: Blacks and the birth of the recording industry, 1890-1919

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In this chronological narrative, Brooks (executive vice president of research, Lifetime Television) presents a wealth of information about the first African American recording artists. Starting in ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

While sometimes ever so slightly confusing, the book was a great retrospective of many African-American pioneers of the music industry. Definitely a great book.

Other editions - View all

About the author (2004)

Tim Brooks is Executive Vice President of Research at Lifetime Television. He is coauthor of The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows and The Columbia Master Book Discography, and the author of Little Wonder Records: A History and Discography. He is past president of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections and the winner of its Lifetime Achievement Award. Dick Spottswood is a freelance author, broadcaster, and record producer. He is the author of the seven volume reference work, Ethnic Music on Records.

Bibliographic information