Listen: Rhiannon Giddens Talks with NPR About Harry Pace, Ethel Waters, and Black Swan Records

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Submitted by nonesuch on Wed, 06/30/2021 - 09:00
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Rhiannon Giddens spoke with WNYC's Radiolab for its miniseries The Vanishing of Harry Pace and with NPR's Radio Diaries for its feature "The Rise and Fall of Black Swan Records," both about the groundbreaking life of Pace, who, a century ago, founded Black Swan Records, the first major Black-owned record company, and launched the careers of Ethel Waters and Louis Armstrong, and what happened next. "This period—basically between emancipation and the Harlem Renaissance—it is the key to our American character," Giddens says.

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Rhiannon Giddens spoke both with WNYC's Radiolab for its miniseries The Vanishing of Harry Pace and with NPR's Radio Diaries for its feature "The Rise and Fall of Black Swan Records," both about the groundbreaking life of Pace, who, a century ago, founded Black Swan Records, the first major Black-owned record company, and launched the careers of Ethel Waters and Louis Armstrong, and what happened next.

"This period—basically between emancipation and the Harlem Renaissance—it is the key to our American character," Giddens tells Radiolab's Jad Abumrad and Shima Oliaee on the fourth and latest episode in their miniseries.

She goes on to express the importance of Ethel Water's take on "Underneath the Harlem Moon," which Giddens herself recorded on the 2015 EP Factory Girl.

"She owns every aspect of being a Black person," Giddens explains. "I get goose bumps every time I sing that song ... I wish I didn't have to talk about this stuff, but I do. But you know what? Ethel gave me this vehicle to let loose."

You can hear the episode of The Vanishing of Harry Pace here:

And here's Giddens's version of "Underneath the Harlem Moon" from Factory Girl:

"Black Swan Records had almost an embarrassment of talent on their roster," Giddens tells Radio Diaries. "When the culture at large saw there was money to be made, game was over."

You can hear that story on Radio Diaries' "The Rise and Fall of Black Swan Records" here and on tonight's All Things Considered:

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Rhiannon Giddens: Ethel Waters, Harry Pace, Black Swan Records
  • Wednesday, June 30, 2021
    Listen: Rhiannon Giddens Talks with NPR About Harry Pace, Ethel Waters, and Black Swan Records

    Rhiannon Giddens spoke both with WNYC's Radiolab for its miniseries The Vanishing of Harry Pace and with NPR's Radio Diaries for its feature "The Rise and Fall of Black Swan Records," both about the groundbreaking life of Pace, who, a century ago, founded Black Swan Records, the first major Black-owned record company, and launched the careers of Ethel Waters and Louis Armstrong, and what happened next.

    "This period—basically between emancipation and the Harlem Renaissance—it is the key to our American character," Giddens tells Radiolab's Jad Abumrad and Shima Oliaee on the fourth and latest episode in their miniseries.

    She goes on to express the importance of Ethel Water's take on "Underneath the Harlem Moon," which Giddens herself recorded on the 2015 EP Factory Girl.

    "She owns every aspect of being a Black person," Giddens explains. "I get goose bumps every time I sing that song ... I wish I didn't have to talk about this stuff, but I do. But you know what? Ethel gave me this vehicle to let loose."

    You can hear the episode of The Vanishing of Harry Pace here:

    And here's Giddens's version of "Underneath the Harlem Moon" from Factory Girl:

    "Black Swan Records had almost an embarrassment of talent on their roster," Giddens tells Radio Diaries. "When the culture at large saw there was money to be made, game was over."

    You can hear that story on Radio Diaries' "The Rise and Fall of Black Swan Records" here and on tonight's All Things Considered:

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