Legacy of Music

The Starr-Gennett Foundation is dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of Gennett Records and its parent organization, the Starr Piano Company. The Foundation is working to save this important legacy and foster worldwide appreciation for this remarkable piece of American popular music history.

Once headquartered in Richmond, Indiana, the Starr Piano Company launched a recording division in 1915 that recorded, manufactured, and distributed 78 rpm phonograph records, the majority of which featured the company’s Gennett record label. The legacy of the Starr-Gennett enterprise can still be heard in the popular music world of today. 

Many popular music pioneers including Louis Armstrong, Uncle Dave Macon, Thomas A. Dorsey, Charley Patton, Duke Ellington, Gene Autry, the Mills Brothers, and even Lawrence Welk recorded in the Gennett studios. The number and importance of these early jazz, blues, gospel, and old-time country artists is astonishing.

These artists helped shape American popular music, and the Starr Piano Company helped spread their innovative music.  Gennett also recorded ethnic music, Tin Pan Alley-style popular songs, classical music, sound effects, and even famous speeches. This important legacy forms the basis for the Starr-Gennett Foundation’s programs and future goals.

Music has the power to transcend time, cultures, and generations. It can evoke emotions, tell stories, and bring people together like nothing else. Throughout history, there have been numerous individuals and organizations that have dedicated themselves to preserving and promoting music. One such organization is the Starr Gennett Foundation, a non-profit organization that is making a significant impact in the world of music preservation and education.

The Starr Gennett Foundation, based in Richmond, Indiana, is named after the iconic Gennett Records label, which was established in 1917 and played a crucial role in the early recording industry. Gennett Records was known for its diverse catalog, featuring recordings of jazz, blues, country, and gospel music, among other genres. Many legendary musicians and bands, such as Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Hoagy Carmichael, and Bix Beiderbecke, recorded for Gennett Records, making it a significant part of American music history.

The Starr Gennett Foundation was founded in 2007 with the mission to preserve, promote, and celebrate the legacy of Gennett Records and its impact on American music. The foundation’s efforts focus on three main areas: preservation, education, and community engagement.

Preservation is at the heart of the Starr Gennett Foundation’s work. The foundation has undertaken significant efforts to digitize and preserve the original Gennett Records recordings, which were recorded on fragile shellac discs that have deteriorated over time. Through meticulous restoration and preservation efforts, the foundation has been able to digitize thousands of recordings, making them accessible for future generations to enjoy and study. This has been a monumental task that has required extensive resources and expertise, but the foundation remains committed to ensuring that the legacy of Gennett Records lives on.

Education is another crucial aspect of the Starr Gennett Foundation’s mission. The foundation is dedicated to promoting music education and fostering a deeper understanding of the history and cultural significance of American music. The foundation offers various educational programs and resources, including workshops, lectures, and curriculum materials, to schools, universities, and community organizations. These initiatives aim to inspire and educate individuals of all ages about the rich heritage of American music, from its roots in blues and jazz to its influence on modern popular music.

Community engagement is also a core pillar of the Starr Gennett Foundation’s efforts. The foundation actively collaborates with local and regional communities to create opportunities for music performance, celebration, and cultural exchange. One of its flagship events is the Starr-Gennett Walk of Fame, which honors influential musicians, producers, and recording artists who have made significant contributions to American music. The Walk of Fame, located in Richmond, Indiana, serves as a vibrant reminder of the enduring impact of Gennett Records and its legacy.

In addition to its preservation, education, and community engagement initiatives, the Starr Gennett Foundation also operates the Gennett Mansion, a historic property that serves as a cultural and educational center. The Gennett Mansion hosts various events, including concerts, exhibits, and workshops, and provides a space for musicians, scholars, and music enthusiasts to come together and celebrate the rich heritage of American music.

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The Starr Gennett Foundation’s work has been widely recognized and celebrated. It has received grants from prestigious organizations, such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Grammy Foundation, to support its preservation and education initiatives. The foundation has also received accolades for its dedication to preserving American music history and promoting music education in local communities.

In conclusion, the Starr Gennett Foundation is a trailblazing organization that is making a significant impact in the world of music preservation and education. Through its preservation efforts, educational programs, and community engagement initiatives, it will definitely reach more heights soon.