“You Are There 1927: Gennett Studio” opens March 14 at History Center
The Indiana Historical Society (IHS) invites guests back in time to visit a musical recording business that, while short-lived, helped define American music for generations to come.
“You Are There 1927: Gennett Studio” opens Saturday, March 14, at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis. The exhibit explores the story of Starr Piano Company and its Gennett record label. While the venture only lasted less than two decades, the ripple effects of the music created in this small Richmond, Indiana, studio had far-reaching effects. Gennett produced some of the earliest recordings of King Oliver, Bix Beiderbecke and Hoagy Carmichael.
Jazz enthusiasts consider Richmond and the Starr Piano Company’s Gennett Records studio “the cradle of recorded jazz.” Starr Gennett also nurtured other forms of popular music, ethnic music, sound effects for radio and film, and even preservation of the spoken word.
“Gennett Records is important because it brought together musicians from across the country to record jazz, blues, country and ethnic music that still has an impact on the music industry today,” said, Jeff Mills, IHS Senior Director of Exhibits.
Exhibit objects include original recordings like Hoagy Carmichael’s first version of “Stardust” and musical instruments used at the Gennett studio, including a fiddle belonging to country artist Herbert Sweet. Several documents will be on display, including a telegram from Gennett Studio to Gene Autry. A dynamic digital interactive will give visitors the opportunity to sample the groundbreaking music made at and influenced by artists who recorded at Gennett. Artists include people like Louis Armstrong, Alberta Hunter and Charley Patton, among many others.
Finally, visitors will be able to step back in time and explore a recreation of the original Gennett Studio, meeting artists who recorded at Gennett Studio, studio staff and members of the Gennett family. Guests will also be able to see how early recording was done, handle period instruments, hear music on a period phonograph, and much more.
“You Are There 1927: Gennett Studio” is supported by OneAmerica and the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation. The Kids Play Zone is supported by GuitarWorks, and Museum Theater is presented by the Nicholas H. Noyes, Jr., Memorial Foundation, Inc. The exhibit is included with admission to the Indiana Experience, which is $13 for adults, $12 for seniors and $5 for kids (ages 5-17). IHS members and children younger than 5 receive free admission.