Wednesday, November 18, 2015 "Black Swan Records: First African-American Recording Company"; "William Grant Still was hired as the musical director of Black Swan Records"

Harry Herbert Pace

William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List by Dr. Dominique-Rene de Lerma,

Femi Lewis, African American History Expert

In 1921, entrepreneur Harry Herbert Pace established Pace Phonograph Corporation and the record label, Black Swan Records. As the first African-American owned record company, Black Swan was known for its ability to produce “race records.”

And the company proudly stamped its slogan on every album cover “The Only Genuine Colored Records--Others are Only Passing for Colored.”

This week's newsletter is dedicated to understanding Black Swan Records and its importance in African-American history and culture.

In 1912, Harry Herbert Pace met musician W.C. Handy. The duo began writing songs together, relocated to New York City, and established the Pace and Handy Music Company. Pace and Handy published sheet music that was sold to white-owned record companies.

As the Harlem Renaissance picked up steam, Pace was inspired to expand his business. Pace established the Pace Phonograph Corporation and the Black Swan Record Label in 1921.

The company was named for performer Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield who was called “The Black Swan.”

Famed composer William Grant Still was hired as the musical director of Black Swan Records.

A classical composer, Still wrote more than 150 compositions. As the first African-American to conduct a major symphony orchestra in the United States, Still is often called the “Dean” of African-American composers.

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