Gennett Records

Located in Richmond, Indiana, Gennett recorded many old-time music performers who were to influence future bluegrass artists in the southwestern Ohio area. Gennett was owned by the Starr Piano Company, whose manufacturing facilities were located in Richmond. So when the company decided to enter the record business, they pressed the records in Richmond. Although some of their recording was done in New York, the bulk of it was done at the Richmond location, beginning in 1917. Early success of Gennett was in jazz and blues with such artists as Hoagy Carmichael and Bix Beiderbecke. Some of Louis Armstrong’s early records were made in Richmond. However, starting in 1925 and continuing through 1934, they recorded many old-time music performers from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio, as well as artists from the WLS National Barn Dance in Chicago. The location in Richmond was in much closer proximity to those performers than the major record labels which were located in New York and the East. A couple of artists from Gennett who had a direct connection to Ohio were Bradley Kincaid, who later owned a radio station and music store in Springfield, and Wendell Hall who ran the talent show that was Grandpa Jones’ first entry into the music business. Ma and Pa McCormick, along with Frank Miller and Homer “Big Foot” Castleman, worked at WLW in Cincinnati for many years and recorded on Gennett as the Blue Ridge Mountaineers. Jimmie Skinner did his first recordings here, but they were either destroyed or lost and were never issued. After Gennett went out of business, the pressing plant was used by Decca and later by Mercury for record manufacturing. An ongoing project by the Starr-Gennett Foundation in Richmond has established a Walk of Fame in Whitewater Gorge Park to pay tribute to Gennett and its best known artists. Old-time country artists who are in the walk of fame so far include Doc Roberts and Asa Martin, Ernest and Hattie Stoneman, Uncle Dave Macon, Bradley Kincaid, Vernon Dalhart, Wendell Hall, and Gene Autry. Legend has it that Gene Autry’s horse Champion was named after Champion Records, the Gennett subsidiary for which Autry recorded. The Wayne County Historical Museum in Richmond has an interesting exhibit on Gennett Records.

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