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Written by Barry Kowal   
Aug 18, 2013 at 12:17 PM
   The birth and early development of an art form is a rare and exciting thing.It is even more exciting when the story of that evolution has been lost in the mists of history to all but a few scholars,and the opportunity arises to uncover and
tell it all to the world.
   I believe this is what represents.It is the history of popular recordings from the first stirrings of the industry in the Victorian Age to the dawn of the Rock era & beyond.We can see so much of ourselves in this history:
the innocent sentimentality of the 1890s,the clash of personal and national emotions in World War I,the sunny overlying fear during the "Great Depression"World War II,Rock & Roll,21st century and beyond. Yet,alot of that history has been largely unknown.
   Have you ever heard of Len Spencer or Russell Hunting? They were two of the pioneers of early popular recordings,however,however,for almost 80 years their names have been almost totally forgotten.How about Bill Murray and Ada
Jones? They were popular superstars of their time,yet even the finest popular music histories give little more than passing mention.I give them the recognition they so long have deserved.
  When I started my website ( my intention was to carry the popular recording charts back to the 1920s.Although I've grown up on and loved the music of the Beatles,Rolling Stones,Led Zeppelin,Bruce Springsteen,
Michael Jackson,Nirvana and Eminem,the great artists of the dance band era have been just as meaningful to me since I discovered them. The music of Glenn Miller,Count Basie and Tommy Dorsey,and the song stylings of Sinatra and Billie Holiday are every bit as vital and thrilling to this child of the rock era as they must have been to those who experienced it first hand.
  But what I learned of the artists of the pre-1920 era came as a revelation to me.The duets of Ada & Billy were absolutely delightful in the innocent sense of flirtatious fun they conveyed.The records of the Haydn,Peerless and
American Quartets conjured up the classic era of barbershop four-part harmonies.Cal Stewart's tales of "Uncle Josh" were often hilarious and revealing slices of life in the great tradition of American storytelling.And all of
this is in addition to the already-recognized greatness of Caruso and McCormack.
  One of the things I'd especially love to see happen as a result of this website would be for more information to be disseminated from this era.Until then,the best appreciation of popular recordings of that age can be found on this websie.

                        Barry Kowal and Steve Sullivan

Editors note:Steve Sullivan spent three years doing intensive research work for the years of 1890-1954 on this website at the Library of Congress Recorded Sound Reference Center.   

The most influential Artist in the past 25 years