Chicago

OKeh Records

OKeh Records was founded by Otto K. E. Heinemann, a German-American, who set up a recording studio and pressing plant in New York City and started the label in 1918.  A landmark OKeh release OKeh released mainly music by dance and jazz bands, until a blues singer, Mamie Smith, became the first African […]

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Tom Washington

Thomas Clay Washington was born in Chicago in 1944. He grew up on the South Side of the city on a large housing estate called the Ida B. Wells Project. He learned to play drums and keyboards and went on to study music with James Mack at Crane Junior College. […]

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Tyrone Davis

Tyrone Fettson was born in Greenville, Mississippi, in 1937 or 1938. He moved to Chicago in 1959 and began working as a chauffeur for Blues legend Freddie King. He also starting singing in local clubs, where he was noticed by Harold Burrage, who helped him record some early tracks for small Chicago record labels, […]

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The Chi-Lites

The group that became the Chi-Lites in 1964 was originally made up of four school friends from Hyde Park High School in Chicago plus a young singer who attended Englewood High School. They were Robert “Squirrel” Lester, Clarence Johnson, Burt Bowen, and Eddie Reed, plus Eugene Record. By 1960 a few […]

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Jackie Wilson

Jackie Wilson was born in Detroit in 1934. He left school at fifteen, joined a gospel group, got into trouble with the police, started drinking and got married by the age of seventeen. Not a great start to his career in music. Fortunately, he really could sing! His first taste […]

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Brunswick Records

The association of the Brunswick name with popular music goes back a long way. Brunswick-Balke-Collender, a company based in Iowa, was a manufacturer of pianos and sports equipment, that began trading in 1845. In 1916 they began making phonographs and then records too. In 1930, they sold their record business to […]

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Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples was born in the city of Chicago on the 10th July 1939.  Aged eleven, she joined The Staple Singers, the family group led by her father Pops, who started their recording careers at the locally-based black-owned legendary record label, Vee-Jay Records, during the mid-1950s, as a Gospel recording act […]

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