The Rise and Fall of Black Swan Records
In 1921, a man named Harry Pace started the first major Black-owned record company in the United States. He called it Black Swan Records.
In an era when few Black musicians were recorded, the company was revolutionary. It launched the careers of Ethel Waters, Fletcher Henderson, William Grant Still, Alberta Hunter, and other influential artists who transformed American music.
But Black Swan’s success would be short-lived. Just a couple years after Pace founded the company, larger, wealthier, white competitors started to take an interest in the artists whose careers Pace had propelled. Then, Pace’s own life took a mysterious turn.
This episode originally aired on NPR’s All Things Considered in 2021.