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Don Robey Collection

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Physical Description

1 box (.5 linear feet) of manuscript materials, including promotional photographs and negatives, promotional flyers, royalty ledgers, song lyrics, bank statements, and correspondence



Agency History/Biographical Sketch:

Born in 1903 in Houston, Texas’ Fifth Ward, Don Robey dropped out of school to become a professional gambler. By his twentieth birthday he had a family to provide for. He employed his risk-taking skills and ability to read people, developed from his career as a gambler, to become a traveling sales representative for a Texas liquor distributor. He then became a party promoter, which gave him the capital and entertainment connections to open his own night club. Robey used his night club as a springboard for his creation of a record label named after his club, the Bronze Peacock.     In the late 1940s, Don Robey founded Peacock Records and Duke Records, which featured both gospel and rhythm and blues styles. Don Robey is considered a pioneer in the recording industry because of his ability to run a record label for over thirty years. As an African American, the south posed race based challenges for his business development, as well as his business location. Texas, and the south as a whole, was not a prominent area for record producing, yet Robey’s business ability enabled him to carve out a created and economic space that allowed his label to flourish. Robey used the historic tradition of “musicking” (a phrase designed to describe the bridge created by African American musicians between African American music and the music market) to create a qualitative data driven market analysis not yet seen in the 1940s. His consumer centric marketing and music production allowed him to fuse musical styles when producing gospel music that had an R&B sound.


Robey, Don D., 1903-1975, Duke Records, Inc., Peacock Records, Inc., Rhythm and blues music, Gospel music, Brown, Clarence, 1924-2005


Robey, Don D., 1903-1975

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American Vernacular Music Manuscripts

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MTSU Box 41
1301 E. Main Street
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Room 140
Bragg Media & Entertainment Bldg.

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