CHAP. 7 – THE BLACK SWAN
The following is a sampling of recordings issued on the Black Swan label, whose complex history is explored in Chapter Seven.
Recordings marked with an asterisk are courtesy of the Archives of Traditional Music, Indiana University.
The following are some of Black Swan’s “serious” or “high-class” recordings, which differentiated Black Swan from other record companies. (Included here are several religious recordings, one of which, “Ain’t It a Shame,” by the Four Harmony Kings, would not, strictly speaking, have always been grouped in the high-class category.)
Below is a sample of Black Swan’s blues-related recordings. Particularly notable in this sampling is this recording by Isabel Washington, “I Want To” (1923), whose thin, warbly voice could hardly be more different from the rich, muscular voice of Bessie Smith, whom Black Swan rejected.
Black Swan also issued numerous recordings by white performers whose identities were hidden behind generic pseudonyms. Aileen Stanley was one such performer, who had several recordings issued under the name Mamie Jones.
You can download these recordings at a website I did for the Journal of American History to accompany an article of mine on Black Swan Records that the journal published.
The chapter also discusses the unusual advertisements that Black Swan published in The Crisis, the monthly magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and other African American political journals. Below is a complete run of the advertisements that appeared in The Crisis (courtesy of the Journal of American History).
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