National Jukebox

The Library of Congress has made a vast collection of rare music available online in something LOC is calling the National Jukebox. Since I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking and writing about the early years of gospel music in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, I popped in a couple of names and was delighted to find a number of Homer Rodeheaver tunes returned. As I type, I’m listening to Rodeheaver singing “Unclouded Day” from 1913 with what sounds like a small brass ensemble. Feel free to share any discoveries you turn up, gospel or otherwise, assuming you don’t have any work to get done today.

Two others: Just found a 1920 rendition of “The Old Rugged Cross” arranged as a duet with Rodeheaver and “Mrs. William Asher” as well as a 1917 recording of the Billy Sunday Chorus singing “Sail On.” The notes to the recording put the chorus at 2,500 voices.

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  1. NG wrote:

    It is an amazing site. Encourage everyone to get in and do their own searches as they are lots of ways provided — genre, artist, etc.

    Some of the early white gospel quartets had a classical singing style which James Blackwood and others probably learned from. One example was the Hadyn Quartet doing “In the Sweet Bye and Bye.”

    Have a lot more looking to do but didn’t find a lot of unbeat numbers except by black groups. “Gabriel’s Trumpet” by the Dinwiddle Colored Quartet from 1902 is one example.

  2. NG wrote:

    Forgot to mention that the site appears to have only Victor recordings. However, it says it will be updated with recordings from other labels including Columbia and OKeh. That should provide a wider spectrum of music.

  3. NG wrote:

    “It is Well With My Soul” from 1906 recording by Handel Mixed Quartet.

  4. Tom Gervat wrote:

    The great quartets of the acoustic recording era (pre-1925) were the Peerless Quartet, the Shannon Four, and the Hayden Quartet. Victor and Columbia issued dozens of gospel (and popular) songs by them and soloists like Rodeheaver. Many of these can be accessed on line through a Google search. Additionally, there were several great -but more obscure -gospel quartets and singing groups during the late ’20s/early 30s in the tradition of the early Stamps and Vaughan quartets -a virtual treasure trove which most gospel enthusiasts are virtually oblivious to. And best of all, many of the original 78rpms of most of these groups and soloists are still available. Among them were some wonderfully anointed singers.

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