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Black Music in Houston Collection

Identifier: MSS 0159

Content Description

The Black Music in Houston Collection contains newspaper articles, programs, correspondence, and photographs of African American musicians and musical activity in Houston during the 1980s. Most materials are newspaper clippings and photographs of local musicians. While the content of the collection mostly focuses on the music styles jazz and blues, it also contains items about fashion, theater, personal interviews, poets, biography, performance profiles, cowboys’ painters, black baseball, and the 117th anniversary of the Trinity Methodist Church.


  • 1981-1997
  • Majority of material found in 1981-1990

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce materials rom the Black Music in Houston Collection must be obtained from the African American Library at the Gregory School or the appropriate copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Music has long been a cultural staple in the African American community that dates to slavery. The spiritual songs first sung by slaves became known as Gospels. After emancipation, a new music style emerged that expressed their disappointment post-slavery; this style was identified as Blues. Between the two Great wars Houston became a regional center of jazz music, a style popularized during the 19th century. Houston experienced a flourishing music scene from the 1960s to the 1980s with a variety of prevalent genres including blues, jazz and rhythm and blues. Blues music was popularized in Houston during the 1940s with Gold Star Studios, more recently known as Sugar Hill Studios, who produced several prominent musicians including Lighting in Hopkins and Bobby Blue Bland. In the 1950s Peacoack Records and Duke Records also produced multiple musicians under record producer Don Robey. Early black musicians played segregated venues often playing on stages where they were not welcome to attend. Clubs and places such as the El Dorado Ball and Club Matinee provided spaces for black musicians to perform for black audiences. Over time, musical genres evolved and Black music was influenced by several including rock and roll, funk, and eventually pop and hiphop.


1 Linear Feet (2 doc boxes, 1 negative box)

Language of Materials



Collection is arranged in two series by format then chronologically by date.

Series I: Photographs

Series II: Printed Materials

Transfer Note

These records were formerly housed at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library as MSS 0259 Black Music in Houston Collection and were transferred to the African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library in March 2019.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by L. Thomas in 1985.

Related Materials

-MSS 0039 Conrad O. Johnson Collection

-RG 0030 Kashmere Stage Band Reunion Collection

-RG 0041 Jazz Education Inc.

Additional records on Black music are held by the Houston Metropolitan Research Center:

-MSS 252 Milton Larkin Collection

-MSS 322 Arnett Cobb Collection

-MSS 0336 Florence "Bu" Pleasant

-MSS 337 Jewel Brown Collection

-MSS 345 Jimmy Ford Collection

-MSS 349 I.H. Smalley Collection

-MSS 390 Campbell Tolbert Collection

-MSS 403 Illinois Jacquet Collection

Processing Information

Processed by Sheena Wilson, September 2019

MSS 0159 Black Music in Houston Collection
An Inventory of Records at the African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library
Sheena Wilson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the African American History Research Center Repository


African American History Research Center
Houston Public Library
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
Houston History Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002