Gennett Records

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Gennett Records_table_infobox_0

Gennett RecordsGennett Records_header_cell_0_0_0
FoundedGennett Records_header_cell_0_1_0 1917 (1917)Gennett Records_cell_0_1_1
FounderGennett Records_header_cell_0_2_0 Starr Piano CompanyGennett Records_cell_0_2_1
DefunctGennett Records_header_cell_0_3_0 1947–48 (1947–48)Gennett Records_cell_0_3_1
StatusGennett Records_header_cell_0_4_0 InactiveGennett Records_cell_0_4_1
GenreGennett Records_header_cell_0_5_0 Jazz, blues, countryGennett Records_cell_0_5_1
Country of originGennett Records_header_cell_0_6_0 U.S.Gennett Records_cell_0_6_1
LocationGennett Records_header_cell_0_7_0 Richmond, Indiana, United StatesGennett Records_cell_0_7_1

Gennett (pronounced with a soft G) was an American record company and label in Richmond, Indiana, United States, which flourished in the 1920s. Gennett Records_sentence_0

Gennett produced some of the earliest recordings of Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Bix Beiderbecke, and Hoagy Carmichael. Gennett Records_sentence_1

Its roster also included Jelly Roll Morton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, and Gene Autry. Gennett Records_sentence_2

History Gennett Records_section_0

Gennett Records was founded in Richmond, Indiana, by the Starr Piano Company. Gennett Records_sentence_3

It released its first records in October 1917. Gennett Records_sentence_4

The company took its name from its top managers: Harry, Fred and Clarence Gennett. Gennett Records_sentence_5

Earlier, the company had produced recordings under the Starr Records label. Gennett Records_sentence_6

The early issues were vertically cut in the gramophone record grooves, using the hill-and-dale method of a U-shaped groove and sapphire ball stylus, but they switched to the more popular lateral cut method in April 1919. Gennett Records_sentence_7

Gennett set up recording studios in New York City and later, in 1921, set up a second studio on the grounds of the piano factory in Richmond under the supervision of Ezra C.A. Gennett Records_sentence_8

Wickemeyer. Gennett Records_sentence_9

Gennett is best remembered for the wealth of early jazz talent recorded on the label, including sessions by Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, The New Orleans Rhythm Kings, King Oliver's band with the young Louis Armstrong, Lois Deppe's Serenaders with the young Earl Hines, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, The Red Onion Jazz Babies, The State Street Ramblers, Zack Whyte and his Chocolate Beau Brummels, Alphonse Trent and his Orchestra and many others. Gennett Records_sentence_10

Gennett also recorded early blues and gospel music artists such as Thomas A. Dorsey, Sam Collins, Jaybird Coleman, as well as early hillbilly or country music performers such as Vernon Dalhart, Bradley Kincaid, Ernest Stoneman, Fiddlin' Doc Roberts, and Gene Autry. Gennett Records_sentence_11

Many early religious recordings were made by Homer Rodeheaver, early shape note singers and others. Gennett Records_sentence_12

In the early 1920s, the studio was 125 feet (38 m) long and 30 feet (9.1 m) wide with a control room separated by a double pane of glass. Gennett Records_sentence_13

For sound proofing, a Mohawk rug was placed on the floor and drapes and towels were hung on the wall. Gennett Records_sentence_14

Gennett issued a few early electrically recorded masters recorded in the Autograph studios of Chicago in 1925. Gennett Records_sentence_15

These recordings were exceptionally crude, and like many other Autograph issues are easily mistaken for acoustic masters by the casual listener. Gennett Records_sentence_16

Gennett began serious electrical recording in March 1926, using a process licensed from General Electric. Gennett Records_sentence_17

This process was found to be unsatisfactory, for although the quality of the recordings taken by the General Electric process was quite good, there were many customer complaints about the wear characteristics of the electric process records. Gennett Records_sentence_18

The composition of the Gennett biscuit (record material) was of insufficient hardness to withstand the increased wear that resulted when the new recordings with their greatly increased frequency range were played on obsolete phonographs with mica diaphragm reproducers. Gennett Records_sentence_19

The company discontinued recording by this process in August 1926, and did not return to electric recording until February 1927, after signing a new agreement to license the RCA Photophone recording process. Gennett Records_sentence_20

At this time the company also introduced an improved record biscuit which was adequate to the demands imposed by the electric recording process. Gennett Records_sentence_21

The improved records were identified by a newly designed black label touting the "New Electrobeam" process. Gennett Records_sentence_22

From 1925 to 1934, Gennett released recordings by hundreds of "old-time music" artists, precursors to country music, including such artists as Doc Roberts and Gene Autry. Gennett Records_sentence_23

By the late 1920s, Gennett was pressing records for more than 25 labels worldwide, including budget disks for the Sears catalog. Gennett Records_sentence_24

In 1926, Fred Gennett created Champion Records as a budget label for tunes previously released on Gennett. Gennett Records_sentence_25

The Gennett Company was hit severely by the Great Depression in 1930. Gennett Records_sentence_26

It cut back on record recording and production until it was halted altogether in 1934. Gennett Records_sentence_27

At this time the only product Gennett Records produced under its own name was a series of recorded sound effects for use by radio stations. Gennett Records_sentence_28

In 1935 the Starr Piano Company sold some Gennett masters, and the Gennett and Champion trademarks to Decca Records. Gennett Records_sentence_29

Jack Kapp of Decca was primarily interested in some jazz, blues and old time music items in the Gennett catalog which he thought would add depth to the selections offered by the newly organized Decca company. Gennett Records_sentence_30

Kapp also attempted to revive the Gennett and Champion labels between 1935 and 1937 as specialists in bargain pressings of race and old-time music with but little success. Gennett Records_sentence_31

The Starr record plant soldiered on under the supervision of Harry Gennett through the remainder of the decade by offering contract pressing services. Gennett Records_sentence_32

For a time the Starr Piano Company was the principal manufacturer of Decca records, but much of this business dried up after Decca purchased its own pressing plant in 1938 (the Newaygo, Michigan, plant that formerly had pressed Brunswick and Vocalion records). Gennett Records_sentence_33

In the years remaining before World War II, Gennett did contract pressing for a number of New York-based jazz and folk music labels, including Joe Davis, Keynote and Asch. Gennett Records_sentence_34

With the coming of the Second World War, the War Production Board in March 1942 declared shellac a rationed commodity, limiting all record manufacturers to 70% of their 1939 shellac usage. Gennett Records_sentence_35

Newly organized record labels were forced to purchase their shellac allocations from existing companies. Gennett Records_sentence_36

Joe Davis purchased the Gennett shellac allocation, some of which he used for his own labels, and some of which he sold to the newly organized Capitol Records. Gennett Records_sentence_37

Harry Gennett intended to use the funds from the sale of his shellac ration to modernize this pressing plant after Victory, but there is no indication that he did so, Gennett sold decreasing numbers of special purpose records (mostly sound effects, skating rink, and church tower chimes) until 1947 or 1948, and the business then seemed to just fade away. Gennett Records_sentence_38

Brunswick Records acquired the old Gennett pressing plant for Decca. Gennett Records_sentence_39

After Decca opened a new pressing plant in Pinckneyville, Illinois, in 1956, the old Gennett plant in Richmond, Indiana, was sold to Mercury Records in 1958. Gennett Records_sentence_40

Mercury operated the historic plant until 1969 when it moved to a nearby modern plant later operated by Cinram. Gennett Records_sentence_41

Located at 1600 Rich Road, Cinram closed the plant in 2009. Gennett Records_sentence_42

The Gennett company produced the Gennett, Starr, Champion, Superior, and Van Speaking labels, and also produced some Supertone, Silvertone, and Challenge records under contract. Gennett Records_sentence_43

The firm pressed most Autograph, Rainbow, Hitch, KKK, Our Song, and Vaughn records under contract. Gennett Records_sentence_44

Gennett Walk of Fame Gennett Records_section_1

In September 2007, the Starr-Gennett Foundation began to recognize the most important Gennett artists on a Walk of Fame near the site of Gennett's Richmond, Indiana, recording studio. Gennett Records_sentence_45

The Gennett Walk of Fame is located along South 1st Street in Richmond at the site of the Starr Piano Company and embedded in the Whitewater Gorge Trail, which connects to the longer Cardinal Greenway Trail. Gennett Records_sentence_46

Both trails are part of the American Discovery Trail, the only coast-to-coast, non-motorized recreational trail. Gennett Records_sentence_47

The Foundation convened its National Advisory Board for the first time in January, 2006, to select the first 10 inductees for the Gennett Records Walk of Fame. Gennett Records_sentence_48

The Advisory Board selects inductees from these categories: classic jazz, old-time country, blues, gospel (African-American and Southern), American popular song, ethnic, historic/spoken, and classical, giving preference to classic jazz, old-time country, blues, gospel, and American popular song. Gennett Records_sentence_49

The Advisory Board's consensus selection for the first inductee in the Gennett Walk of Fame was Louis Armstrong. Gennett Records_sentence_50

The following is a list of the first ten inductees: Gennett Records_sentence_51

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A second set of ten nominees was inducted in 2008: Gennett Records_sentence_52

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2009 Inductees: Gennett Records_sentence_53

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2010 Inductees: Gennett Records_sentence_54

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2011 Inductees: Gennett Records_sentence_55

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  • Roosevelt SykesGennett Records_item_4_28
  • Bailey's Lucky SevenGennett Records_item_4_29

2012 Inductees: Gennett Records_sentence_56

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2013 Inductee: Gennett Records_sentence_57

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2014 Inductee: Gennett Records_sentence_58

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2016 Inductee: Gennett Records_sentence_59

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Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Records.