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[New!]Tony Talent & the Coalitions

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Sweet Delights

Sammy Strain & the Imperials, 1964 -, Part 4 in the series

Sammy Strain & the Imperials, 1961 - 1963 Part 3

Sammy Strain & the Fantastics Part 2

Sammy Strain & the Chips Part 1

Asbury Park Vocal Groups Pt. 2

Asbury Park Vocal Groups, Pt.1

Philly's Original Capris

Little Jimmy & The Tops

Teddy & Twilights, Deckers

Groups from Philly's Francisville - Belltones, Joe Cook's Thrillers, Royal Demons, Madison Brothers

Sensations - Part 1

Sensations - Part 2

Johnny Maestro, the Crests & Brooklyn Bridge

Johnny Stiles & the Medallions on Essex

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Orioles' Deborah Chessler

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Windy City Harmony: Calvaes, Blenders & Accents

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Richard Barrett Part 1: The Valentines

Richard Barrett
Part 2:
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Richard Barrett
Part 3: The Chantels, Clickettes,
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Richard Barrett
Part 4:

Little Anthony & Imperials

Richard Barrett
Part 5: Lewis Lymon
&
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Richard Barrett
Part 6: The Channels,
Isley Bros, Del Knights

Richard Barrett Part 7: The 3 Degrees, Showmen

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bullet [New!]TNT with Vic Donna Group & Charlie Horner
 
bulletAsbury Angels 2014, Bobby Thomas
 
bulletRichard Nader Doo Wop Concert XXV
 
bullet2014 Portsmouth VA Gospel Concert
 
bullet Billy Vera Big Band at the Cutting Room NYC
 
bullet VGHA Extravaganza III
 
bullet Asbury Park Gospel Explosion

African American
Museum Philadelphia
Gospel Awards Ceremony

 
bullet Ray Goodman & Brown in Plainfield
 
bulletRe-MemberThen
at NJ Doo Wop Singers Club 2013

 
bulletEncounters at Somerset Run
 
bulletRichard Nader's Doo Wop Celebration XXVI
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2013 Asbury Angels Plaque Dedications
 
bullet VGHA Acappella Extravaganza II
 
bullet2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
 
bullet Time Capsule Show 50th Anniversary
bullet
2013 Portsmouth, VA Gospel Concert
 
bulletRe-MemberThen
at Manchester, NJ

 
bulletRe-MemberThen
at New Providence Library

 
bulletJohn Moore's Middle Room Records Closes
 
bulletLittle Isidore in Fair Lawn, NJ
 
bulletNJ Doo Wop Singers Club Jan 2013
 
bulletCelebrating Asbury Park's West Side Harmony
 
bulletDoo Wop Singers Club 4th Anniversary
 
bulletChuck Berry Honored by the R&R Hall of Fame
 
bulletQuiet Storm at Somerset Run
 
bulletAsbury Angels 2012 Induction Ceremony
 
bullet2012 Philly Doo Wop Festival
 
bullet2012 Lead East
 
bulletTNT R&B and Doo Wop Party, Aug 2012
 
bulletPam Nardella's Frankie Lymon Tombstone BBQ
 
bullet Classic Urban Harmony Celebrates Vocal Harmony & the Masqueraders 50th Anniversary
Multi-Part
 
bulletFrankie Lymon Tombstone Finds a New Home
 
bulletStormin Norman Seldin & Return of Ray & Darchaes in Monmouth Beach NJ
 
bullet2012 Portsmouth VA Gospel Concert
 
bulletTNT North Jersey R&B and Doo Wop Party - 2nd Anniversary
 
bulletAcappella Extravaganza at Molloy College 2011
 
bulletDoo Wop Singers Club (NJ) Third Anniversary
 
bulletSoul of Asbury Park Concert
 
bulletMasqueraders Silver Star Competition
 
bullet6th Annual Philly Doo Wop Festival
 
bulletSouth Philly String Band Club After Party to 6th Philly Doo Wop Festival
 
bulletTymes' Norman & Peggy Burnett BBQ 2011
 
bullet2011 Lead East
 
bullet Morris Museum Acappella & Doo Wop Concert # Two
 
bullet Morris Museum Acappella Concert # One
 
bulletClassic Urban Harmony Presentation NJ Doo Wop Groups Part 2
 
bulletClassic Urban Harmony Presentation NJ Doo Wop Groups Part 1
 
bulletMorris Museum LaBamba & Quiet Storm Concert
 
bulletMorris Museum Jersey Rocks Exhibit Opening
 
bulletMorris Museum Jersey Rocks Launch Party
 
bulletEvening With Vocal Group Legends Concert
 
bulletRe-memberThen Finds Its Echo
 
bulletSteve Applebaum Tribute Concert
 
bulletWFDU Fundraiser, Teaneck, NJ March 2011
 
bullet Four J's Jimmy Testa Tribute & Benefit Concert
 
bulletVic Donna Group Rehearsal at CUH Headquarters
 
bulletPam & Charlie's 5th Anniversary Celebration - Multi Parts
 
bullet2010 Philly Doo Wop Festival
 
bullet"Doll Face" Musical Comedy
 
bulletNJ Doo Wop & Street Corner Harmony Association
 
bulletNick @ Nite Open Mic Night
 
bulletLeins Wedding
 
bullet"Fun-Raiser" at South Philly String Band Club
 
bulletRichard Nader’s Summer Doowop Reunion XXI
 
bulletPhilly Doo Wop Diner Mural
 
bulletMaking Crossroads 2
 
bulletCornerstone CD Release Party
 
bulletVirginia Legends of Gospel Concert
 
bulletS. Philly Stringband Club Jan 13, 2010
 
bulletRemembering Ronnie I. Concert Nov 2009
 
bulletPGHA's Heavenly Harmony XII Concert
 
bulletS. Philly Stringband
Club
Testimonial
 
bulletFilming a Documentary
on Acappella
 
bulletAcappella Group Soul'D
Out on
Celebrity
Solstice
Oct 2009
 
bulletBattleship New Jersey Dance & Concert
 
bulletWVLT Cruisin' 92.1 Concert
 
bulletTymes' Norman & Peggy Burnett 2009 BBQ
 
bullet2009 Charleston Beach Music & Shag Festival
 
bulletAcappella Group Choice at Franklin Township Public Library
 
bullet American Bandstand Studio Fundraiser
 
bulletAcappella at the South Philly String Band Club Revisited
 
bulletFour Man Trio at At Dover NJ's Attilio's Tavern
 
bulletNicky Addeo at Asbury Park's Wonder Bar
 
bulletASAP's First Acappella Concert
 
bulletAcappella at the South Philly String Band Club
 
bulletVisiting Radio's Past & Present at WDVR-FM
 
bullet Chicago SoulTrip USA
 
bulletR&R Hall
of Fame
Interview with
Orioles' Deborah
Chessler

 
bulletSilhouettes' John Wilson Visits CUH World Headquarters
 
bulletNJ Doowop Group Harmony Club, 2009.
 
bullet New Years Eve 2008 with Nicky Addeo & Nite Owls
 
bullet 2008 European Road Trip: Deep River Quartet & Golden Gate Quartet
 
bullet 2008 Black Swan Burlington Concert
 
bullet 2008 Charleston Beach Music & Shag Festival
 
bullet Mills Bros,
Ink Spots
Beach Haven

 
bulletPhilly Doo Wop
Festival 2008

 
bullet Philly Doo Wop
Festival 2006

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bullet [New!]Robert Murphy, Neighbors Complaint
 
bullet Walter McNeil, Gospel Nobleaires
 
bullet Jewel Akens, 4 Dots
 
bulletVirgil Johnson, Velvets
 
bulletCleotha Staples, Staple Singers
 
bulletDarlene McCrae, Cookies, Raeletts
 
bulletGregory Carroll, Four Buddies, Orioles, Dappers, Ink Spots
 
bulletJerome Ramos, Velours
 
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bulletMajor Harris, Delfonics, Nat Turner Rebellion, R&B Soloist
 
bulletBilly Scott, Prophets
 
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bulletDeborah Chessler, Songwriter,Mentor to the Orioles
 
bulletWilla Ward, Ward Singers, Gay Charmers
 
bulletBobby Thomas, Vibranaires, Vibes, V-Eights, Orioles
 
bulletJohn Jones, Moments Pleasure, Norristones, Copians
 
bulletChester Brown. The Counts
 
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bulletJack Scandura
 
bullet Cadillacs' Bobby Phillips
 
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bullet Blue Notes' Roosevelt Brodie
 
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bulletCrests' & Brooklyn Bridge's Johnny Maestro
 
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bulletSolitaires' & Vocaleers' Herman Dunham
 
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bullet40 Years of Group Harmony: Ray Block's Photos of Vintage, Ad-Libs, Reunion, Bon-Aires, East River Drive
 
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The 60th Anniversary of the Vinyl 45 RPM Single

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The Dinwiddie Quartet
First Black Vocal Group to Make A Record



Sterling C. Rex, lead of the Dinwiddie Quartet, ca. 1912

While other African American singing quartets recorded on cylinder (for instance, the Unique Quartette in 1890), a young quartet based in Philadelphia appears to have been the first to record on a flat phonograph disc.

On Wednesday, October 29, 1902, Sterling C. Rex (lead and first tenor), J. Clarence Meredith (second tenor), Harry B. Cruder (first bass) and James mantel Thomas (second bass), all members of the Dinwiddie Quartette, recorded three songs at the studio of the Victor Talking Machine Company, located at Tenth & Lombard Streets in Philadelphia.  They returned on October 31, to record three more songs.  All six songs were then released on seven- and ten-inch one-sided discs, appearing on the Victor and Monarch labels over the next few years.

The Dinwiddie Quartette had gotten together at least three or four years earlier, in order to raise money for the John A. Dix Industrial School of Dinwiddie, VA (also known as the Dinwiddie Normal and Industrial School).  The Dinwiddie School was the first black school in that area of southeast Virginia.  Whether the personnel of the original group was the same as that which recorded is unclear.  What is known, is that the Dinwiddie Quartette spent two years touring for the school, singing in Y.M.C.A. buildings, churches and similar venues.  It has been reported that the group raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the school.

Sometime in 1902, the Dinwiddie Quartette ceased representing the school and joined the cast of a touring black vaudeville show, called the Smart Set.  Headlined by Ernest Hogan and Billy McClain, the Smart Set was a huge success and ran for many years.  But it was in October 1902, while the Smart Set was playing Philadelphia’s National Theatre, that the Dinwiddie Quartette was given the opportunity to record.

All six recorded songs were done acappella.  All were spirituals except the first song recorded, “Down On The Old Camp Ground,” leading researcher George Moonoogian to once refer to this as “the first rhythm & blues vocal group record.”

Victor released all six records in December 1902.  Copies have survived on the Victor, Monarch and Victor Grand Prize labels.  Tim Brooks reports that all six were issued on both 7” and 10” one-sided discs.  We at Classic Urban Harmony are only familiar with the Victor 7” records, so the Monarch label may have been used for the 10: discs.  On record, the group was called, “The Dinwiddie Colored Quartet”.  At least “Down On The Old Camp Ground,” and maybe others, were repressed over the next few years, indicating they were popular.

Both sides of the first black vocal group record, 1902

The Dinwiddie Quartette toured with the Smart Set through the 1902-1903 season.  After that they toured on their own, still based out of Philadelphia, where all four members of the group lived.  By the end of 1904, however, the group had disbanded.

Sterling C. Rex and James Mantel Thomas then joined the Bert Williams and George Walker theatrical group, also appearing with the Williams & Walker Glee Club.  In 1905, Sterling Rex married Ada L. Guigesse, also a member of the Williams & Walker group.

Sterling Rex (born in Pennsylvania, ca. 1880) and his wife Ada (born in Louisiana, ca. 1882) continued living in Philadelphia.  Census records show their home in 1920 as 1026 South Colorado Street, and later as 1826 Fitzwater Street.  Sterling Rex continued performing, mostly solo.  A 1912 news clipping tells of his concert with the Philadelphia Concert Orchestra at the Parkway Auditorium drawing a capacity crowd.

Many scholars have contributed to our knowledge of the Dinwiddie Quartet over the past few years, including Rick Dembinsky and Doug Seroff, but the definitive biography of the group is found in Tim Brooks’ outstanding book, Lost Sounds: Blacks And The Birth Of The Recording Industry 1890 – 1919, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL: 2004).

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