Research Notes: Hard-Working “Elites”

There’s a big misconception about the recording artists of the earliest days. Because the industry was centered in the Northeast, particularly around New York City, Philadelphia, and parts of New Jersey, the idea has persisted that it was a lot of “elite” artists and musicians making records to suit the tastes of sophisticated urbanites. Only when the industry began scouring the country for “authentic” musical traditions did they find the real America—or so the thinking has been.