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Vee-Jay and Brunswick Records

1449 S Michigan Ave.

Vivian Carter and her husband, James Bracken, set up Vee-Jay in 1953. Over the next decade, this Black-owned label became one of the country's premier record companies—even though segregation remained legal in most areas of American life. Its thriving roster included blues (Jimmy Reed), gospel (the Staple Singers, the Swan Silvertones), jazz (Wayne Shorter), and R&B (The Impressions, Betty Everett, Gene Chandler). In February 1963, Vee-Jay became the first U.S. label to release music by The Beatles. Despite that achievement, Vee-Jay filed for bankruptcy in 1966. Before the end of that year, Brunswick Records had established an outpost here, and after influential producer Carl Davis rose to an executive position, a wave of classic soul records came out of these doors in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The Chi-Lites, Barbara Acklin, Jackie Wilson, Tyrone Davis, and many others released hits under the Brunswick banner or on Davis's own Dakar imprint. The label also hired musicians and arrangers such as Willie Henderson, Thomas "Tom Tom" Washington, and Sonny Sanders to craft distinctive instrumental ensembles around these performers. Brunswick had ceased active operations in the early 1980s.

– A.C. 

Caption: Former location of Vee-Jay and Brunswick Records

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