The legendary Okeh Records needs little introduction to soul music fans around the world. It has been relentlessly plundered and treasured for its slue of Northern Soul classics produced by A&R manager Carl Davis and his songwriter Curtis Mayfield during the “soul years” 1963-70.
However, the imprint was originally launched 100 years ago in 1918 by Otto K. E. Heinemann who had already established a recording studio and pressing plant in New York City. The label name was derived from Heinemann’s initials O.K.E.H. From the very early years, Okeh issued records for minority audiences, such as its foreign language music, field recordings and Dixieland jazz. But perhaps the most significant recording was “That Thing Called Love” by Mamie Smith in 1920, the first ever by a black blues singer. The success of Mamie Smith led to Okeh’s 8000 series which ran until 1932.
In 1953, Okeh became an exclusive R&B label and it is the ensuing decade of recordings that form the focus of our collection, from Titus Turner’s raucous “Big Mary” in ’53 to Gerald Sims’ laid back “Cool Breeze” in ’62.
Titus Turner - Big Mary’s
Jolly Boy Shepard - You Care
Big Maybelle - I Got A Feeling
Marie Knight - Come On Baby (Hold My Hand)
Billy La Mont - I’m Gonna Try
Ted Taylor - Don’t Lie
Gerald Sims - Cool Breeze
Jean DuShon - Plaything
Chuck Willis - Give And Take
Jean DuShon - Second Class Lover
Angel Face - I Can’t Look Back
Dr Feelgood And The Interns - Mister Moonlight
Rex Garvin And The Mighty Cravers - Emulsified
Louis (Blues Boy) Jones - Come On Home
Roy Lee Johnson With Dr Feelgood & The Interns - Black Pepper Will Make You Sneeze
Big Maybelle - Ocean Of Tears
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