Black First of the Day

Black Firsts 3e
ISBN: 9781578593699

What was the first Black record company?

  • It was eventually sold to Paramount Records.
  • Founded by Henry Pace.
  • Ethel Waters recorded the company's first hit, "Down Home Blues/Oh, Daddy."
  • It used the Black Swan label.


The Pace Phonograph Company

the Pace Phonograph Company, which used the Black Swan label, was the first record company owned and operated by a black. It was established in January 1921 by Henry Pace (1897-1943), who had been owner of a music publishing company with W. C. Handy. Two former workers for the Pace-Handy Company joined him: Fletcher Henderson (1897-1952) as a recording manager and William Grant Still (1895-1978) as an arranger. In spring 1921 Ethel Waters (1896-1977) recorded the company's first hit, "Down Home Blues/Oh, Daddy." During its first six months the company reportedly sold more than half a million records. It went broke in 1923, and was sold to Paramount Records the following year.

Sources: Southern, The Music of Black Americans, pp. 366-67.

From Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Events by Jessie Carney Smith, © 2013 Visible Ink Press®. A celebration of achievement, accomplishments and pride.

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