Record Row -- Cradle Of Rhythm & Blues


April 26, 2021

RECORD ROW: CRADLE OF RHYTHM & BLUES, a 60-minute national PBS special, is the story of recording artists, producers, and entrepreneurs - many of them people of color - who carved out an industry in the American musical genre of rhythm and blues. 'Record Row' was a 10-block stretch of Chicago's South Michigan Avenue, where several independent record companies, most notably, the historic Chess and Vee Jay labels, produced blues, R&B, jazz and soul music from the late 1950s to the mid 1970s. Chicago was the promised land of jobs for thousands of Blacks migrating north during the 1950s and with new jobs came a higher standard of living and a desire to enjoy cultural outlets. Rhythm & Blues music was one such outlet. Like other race based entertainment enterprises such as the Negro Baseball leagues and the all black casts of 1940s era 'Race' films, the independent R&B labels on Record Row provided music, jobs and opportunity for Black Americans in a segregated society. The intent of the producers of RECORD ROW was to examine the experience of Black entrepreneurship in the record industry and to chronicle the rise and fall of a vibrant R&B community and its many pioneers who helped push black music across the color line.

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