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About the Soundtrack


    The 1920s was an era of flappers, speakeasies and bathtub gin-a time perhaps best characterized not by a sight, but rather by a sound…the sound of jazz. At a time when early American recording companies first experimented with recordings of brass bands and popular Tin Pan Alley acts, there was a small studio in Richmond, Indiana, that did what few other studios of the early '20s were willing to do at the time-allow African-American artists traveling from the Mississippi Delta region to the nightclubs in Chicago to sign their first recording contracts. In turn, Richmond's tiny Gennett Recording Studio played host to some of the biggest names in early jazz history and produced some of the earliest known jazz recordings, known at the time as "race records."

     Louis Armstrong, Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton, Joe "King" Oliver, Bix Biederbecke, Hoagy Carmichael, Tommy Dorsey-many of these top names in jazz were often considered by other studio executives as too "radical" for the mainstream marketplace in the 1920s and early '30s. But each found a home at the Gennett Studios in Indiana. Later, Gennett also introduced the raw sound of Mississippi Delta blues with artists like Charlie Patton and Blind Lemon Jefferson, as well as a type of music known in its day as "hillbilly," later to be known as country-western music, with a popular cowboy singer named Gene Autry.

     As many of these musicians traveled through Indiana, they stopped in Indianapolis for performances at the popular nightspots along Indiana Avenue in the heart of the city's African-American district. As a result, "the Avenue" was a source of social and civic pride among blacks in Indianapolis, with names like Ellington, Calloway, Armstrong, and many other popular regional acts that glistened from the marquees every weekend.

    It is in this spirit that the soundtrack to "For Gold & Glory" was created. The music is a tribute to the sounds once heard at the Gennett Studios in Richmond and along Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis during the 1920s, when the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes auto racing spectacular was in its heyday. The music helps capture the specific time, date, and location of a sound that grew to become the birth of recorded jazz in America. As you enjoy each of the samples provided here, take time to read the history of the music that inspired each selection and discover the process by which the sights and the sounds were preserved to create a more historically authentic production.


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