A & R pioneers : architects of American roots music on record

Ward, Brian, 1961- author

Publication Details Click to collapse Cite/Export

  • Creator Brian Ward and Patrick Huber
  • Format Books
  • Contributors
  • Publication Nashville : Country Music Foundation Press : Vanderbilt University Press, [2018]
  • Physical Details
    • xvii, 457 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
  • ISBNs 9780826521750, 0826521754
  • OCLC ocn987491807


  • "A&R Pioneers offers the first comprehensive account of the diverse group of men and women who pioneered artists-and-repertoire (A&R) work in the early US recording industry. In the process, they helped create much of what we now think of as American roots music. Resourceful, innovative, and, at times, shockingly unscrupulous, they scouted and signed many of the singers and musicians who came to define American roots music between the two world wars. They also shaped the repertoires and musical styles of their discoveries, supervised recording sessions, and then devised marketing campaigns to sell the resulting records. By World War II, they had helped redefine the canons of American popular music and established the basic structure and practices of the modern recording industry. Moreover, though their musical interests, talents, and sensibilities varied enormously, these A&R pioneers created the template for the job that would subsequently become known as "record producer." Without Ralph Peer, Art Satherley, Frank Walker, Polk C. Brockman, Eli Oberstein, Don Law, Lester Melrose, J. Mayo Williams, John Hammond, Helen Oakley Dance, and a whole army of lesser known but often hugely influential A&R representatives, the music of Bessie Smith and Bob Wills, of the Carter Family and Count Basie, of Robert Johnson and Jimmie Rodgers may never have found its way onto commercial records and into the heart of America's musical heritage. This is their story" -- Book jacket.


  • Includes bibliographical references and index.


  • Defining A&R : interwar record company officials and their work -- Finding and securing talent -- Contracts and copyrights : the dark heart of A&R -- Choosing songs and building repertoires -- In the studio : creating and recording sounds -- Post-production : defining and defying genre boundaries -- The bottom line : selling records -- Nowhere near total eclipse : A&R work after World War II
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