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Roots of blues music recordings traced back to furniture factory in Grafton, WI



Making records to sell furniture; that's how the historic Paramount Records started in the 1920's.  Some of the earliest recordings of African American Jazz and Blues artists such as Ma Rainey and Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded at Paramount records, founded in Grafton, Wisconsin.


Around 1910, the Wisconsin Chair Company in Port Washington began making phonograph cabinets by contract for Edison Records. Yes, that (Thomas) Edison, inventor of the phonograph. At the end of 2015, Wisconsin Chair started making their own line of wooden record cabinets, but needed an extra incentive to increase sales. They introduced a line of phonograph gramophone records under the label "Paramount" and those records were given away free with the sale of each wooden cabinet. The record pressing and distribution factory in Grafton grew as they started pressing and distributing records for other companies. A recording studio was built next to the distribution company and artists came from all over the south to record.


Why aren't these historical buildings standing today? Learn more about the fall of Paramount Records during the Great Depression by clicking the stories section above.


Walking tours and more information found online at Paramount Records


Thanks in part to musician and music lover Jack White, the rest of the world can learn more about the history and recordings of Paramount Records through " The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records 1917-1932". This two-box set is full of music, art and history housed in a limited-edition hand-sculpted "cabinet-of-wonder", released by Jack White's Third Man Records and John Fahey's Revenant Records. 

Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee