Sunday, 10 February 2008 12:14
ParamountsHome Recommended Reading List
Here you will find an interesting assortment of books that were written about Paramount Records and its parent company The Wisconsin Chair Factory. Each link will take you to the main website where you can find out more about the book and purchase it.
If you would like to see a book listed here, please feel free to send an
with your suggestion.
Paramounts Rise and Fall
Written By ParamountsHome co-founder Alex van der Tuuk gives a thorough history of the Wisconsin Chair Factory and Paramount Records.
Paramount’s Rise and Fall by Alex van der Tuuk
"An essential contribution" - Dr. Jazz Magazine
"Superbly written and beautifully produced" -
Vintage Jazz Mart
"A solid contextual narrative...on which all future work should refer" -
How did a Midwestern chair company become a leader in the 1920s “race record” market? Their decision to launch Paramount Records in 1917 was almost an after-thought, a ploy to increase sales of Wisconsin Chair’s new phonographs.
When Paramount failed to thrive with middle-of-the road fare in the early 1920s, a decision was made to plunge into a new and largely untested market: records by black performers, marketed to black buyers. For a decade, Paramount led the industry in discovering and recording pioneering blues artists— among them, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Ma Rainey, Blind Blake, Skip James, and Charley Patton—despite questionable business practices and the notoriously poor sound quality of its records.
Never able to compete with the larger companies, Paramount was subsidized largely by Wisconsin Chair’s more profitable furniture business. The label died in 1932, but the parent company carried on for 22 more years.
Paramount's Rise and Fall examines not only Paramount and its recording artists, but the parent company's colorful history. The book features 120 illustrations, including previously unpublished photos and rare ads not seen since the 1920s.
Book can be purchased through the publisher Mainspring Press by clicking here
Consumed by fire : a collection of writings about the famous Wisconsin Chair Company Fire, Port Washington, WI, February 19, 1899.
Research & compiled by Fr. Kevin J. Wester
A brief history of Port Washington's Wisconsin Chair Company as well as comprehensive newspaper accounts of the fire that devastated the Wisconsin Chair Company and much of downtown Port Washington in 1899.
Book can be purchased through The Port Washington Historical Society by clicking here
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Michael "Hawkeye" Herman
Hawkeye has compiled an excellent bibliography of suggested reading on the Blues, Music, History and more.
You can read this very comprehensive list by clicking
The Rise of Gospel Blues:
The Music of Thomas Andrew Dorsey in the Urban Church
From the Publisher
Most observers believe that gospel music has been sung in African-American churches since their organization in the late 1800s. Nothing could be further from the truth as Michael Harris's history of gospel blues reveals. Tracing the rise of gospel blues as seen through the career of its founding figure, Thomas Andrew Dorsey, Harris not only tells the story of the most prominent person in the advent of gospel blues, but also contextualizes this powerful new musical form within African-American religious history and significant social developments.
Thomas A. Dorsey, also known as "Georgia Tom," had considerable success in the 1920s as a pianist, composer, and arranger for prominent blues singers including Ma Rainey. In the 1930s, Dorsey became involved in Chicago's African-American, old-line Protestant churches, where his background in the blues greatly influenced his composing and singing. At first these "respectable" Chicago churches rejected this new form, partially because of the unseemly reputation blues performance had, but more because of the excitement that gospel blues produced in the church congregation.
A controversy developed between two conflicting visions of the role of the church in African-American society. One segment envisioned an institution that nurtured a distinct African-American religion and culture; the other saw the church as a means by which African Americans would assimilate first into mainline American Christianity with its sharply contrasting worship demeanor and second into the dominant Anglo-American culture. However, by the end of the 1930s, the former group had prevailed, because of the overwhelming response of the congregation to gospel blues. From that time on, it became a major force in African-American churches and religion.
The Rise of Gospel Blues expresses the broader cultural and religious histories of the African-American experience between the late 1890s and the late 1930s.