Just thinking about the Payola investigations of the late 1950s and how if the practice wasn’t illegal (outside of NY) how could Freed be tried? Also, what were the records that were under interrogation? Freed, known for his ‘Moondog’ and ‘Rock’n’Roll Party’ radio shows, promoted blues and R&B. What tracks was he ‘promoting’? Can we think about this differently? Freed was under pressure due to these promotions and their consumption by young people – yet his refusal to play the white cover version of Tutti Frutti could be perhaps considered an act of activism? is this what was being attacked? could we understand the investigations as a way to block the dissemination and rising popularity of black artists and black music?
- Created Tiara to release “I Met Him on A Sunday” – The Shirelles. This became a ‘hit’ (regional at least) and led to Greenberg selling the group and the label to Decca.
- The group were subsequently returned to Greenberg when Decca felt they were only a one hit wonder.
- This led Greenberg to create Scepter and continued to release with the Shirelles.
- How did she work with/at the Brill Building?
I am now back in the UK from being in Austria for the past fortnight setting up and presenting ‘Losing Chorus’. Although my PhD is not practice based the exhibition and discussions that the exhibition opened up have really helped me think about my research with more focus. One of the points that emerged with more focus was around the politics of disguise – can we understand the changing and replacement of vocals in groups such the Crystals or even the Supremes as a kind of forced disguise (?) Perhaps disguise is not the correct word – obscure, replacement, mimesis, ventriloquise…I am still so uncertain at the moment – but it would be interesting to find out how complicit performers were in the (re)arrangements.
i have also been thinking a lot about the difficulty in pinpointing the ‘beginnings’ of what is understood as ‘girl group’. The term forces a history that is so unsettled and fragmented – that when you begin to hone in on it it disappears. I will continue with these thoughts this evening – my mind s still very fuzzy on what I actually mean….
Although I just want to note down some of things I want to consider for today:
How did the payola scandals impact black run record labels? ( were they targeted?)
what is the relationship between the Chantels and the history of RnB groups? (Nelson George)
I am currently in Linz, Austria preparing for a new exhibition – Losing Chorus. The exhibition explores the non-symbolic aspects of vocalisations produced on ‘girl group’ records.
For more information please see:
A very short article (Wall Street Journal) whereby Ronnie Spector briefly discusses her appreciate of the Chantels track, “Maybe” (End, 1958). Spector states the strength and power in Smiths voice attributing it to ‘girl power’.