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Richard K. Spottswood

Richard K. Spottswood

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Richard K. "Dick" Spottswood (April 17, 1937– ) is a musicologist and author from Maryland who has catalogued and been responsible for the reissue of many thousands of recordings of vernacular music in the United States. He earned his B.A.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 from the University of Maryland
University of Maryland, College Park
The University of Maryland, College Park is a top-ranked public research university located in the city of College Park in Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C...

 in 1960, and his Master's degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 in Library Science from Catholic University
The Catholic University of America
The Catholic University of America is a private university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States. It is a pontifical university of the Catholic Church in the United States and the only institution of higher education founded by the U.S. Catholic bishops...

 in 1962. The title of his Master's thesis was A catalog of American folk music on commercial recordings at the Library of Congress, 1923-1940 . His masterwork, Ethnic Music on Records: A Discography of Ethnic Recordings Produced in the United States, 1893-1942 (University of Illinois Press
University of Illinois Press
The University of Illinois Press , is a major American university press and part of the University of Illinois system. Founded in 1918, the press publishes some 120 new books each year, plus 33 scholarly journals, and several electronic projects...

, 1990) , is a nine-volume listing of sound recordings by minority groups issued in the U.S. until 1942. He also edited and annotated the 15-volume LP series Folk Music in America for the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

, and contributed to books including Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music and Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919 .

Spottswood has contributed to hundreds of reissue recordings issued by companies like Arhoolie
Arhoolie Records
Arhoolie Records is a small record label run by Chris Strachwitz. The label was founded by Strachwitz in 1960 as a way for him to record and publish previously obscure "down home blues" artists such as Lightnin' Hopkins, Snooks Eaglin and Bill Gaither...

, Rounder
Rounder Records
Rounder Records, originally of Cambridge, Massachusetts, but now based in Burlington, Massachusetts, is a record label founded in 1970 by Ken Irwin, Bill Nowlin and Marian Leighton-Levy, while all three were still university students...

, Herwin
Herwin Records
Herwin Records was a US record label.The Herwin Record Company was founded and run by brothers Herbert and Edwin Schiele, the trademark name being formed from their first names. Herwin Records was based in St. Louis, Missouri, and produced records starting in 1924. Most of the material released...

, Yazoo
Yazoo Records
Yazoo Records is an American record label, founded in the late 1960s by Nick Perls. It specializes in early American blues, country, jazz, and other rural American genres ....

, Document
Document Records
Document Records is a British record label that specializes in early American blues, bluegrass, gospel, spirituals jazz, and other rural American genres , generally made between 1900 and 1945...

, Biograph
Biograph Records
Biograph Records is a record label founded in 1967 by Arnold S. Caplin. It specialized in early American ragtime, jazz, and blues music. Biograph was the first label to issue records made from piano rolls created by Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin.In 2002, Biograph Records was...

, Revenant
Revenant Records
Revenant Records is a record label based in Austin, Texas, which concentrates on folk and blues. Revenant was formed in 1996 by John Fahey and Dean Blackwood...

 and Dust-to-Digital, and his own Melodeon
Melodeon Records
Melodeon Records is a record label set up in 1964 by Richard K. Spottswood.Melodeon Records issued - among others - the first recordings after his 'rediscovery' of Skip James and the 1940 Library Of Congress Sessions of Blind Willie McTell. In 1970 the label was acquired by Arnold S. Caplin's...

 and Piedmont
Piedmont Records
Piedmont Records is a record label set up in the early 1960s by Dick Spottswood.Piedmont Records issued - among others - the first recordings after their 'rediscovery' of Mississippi John Hurt and Robert Wilkins.-External links:*...

 labels, illuminating and making available exceptional and nearly-forgotten jewels of American vernacular music for generations to come, and influencing musicologists and musicians. John Fahey
John Fahey (musician)
John Fahey was an American fingerstyle guitarist and composer who pioneered the steel-string acoustic guitar as a solo instrument. His style has been greatly influential and has been described as the foundation of American Primitivism, a term borrowed from painting and referring mainly to the...

, in his book How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life, credited a record canvassing trip with Spottswood, and the Bill Monroe
Bill Monroe
William Smith Monroe was an American musician who created the style of music known as bluegrass, which takes its name from his band, the "Blue Grass Boys," named for Monroe's home state of Kentucky. Monroe's performing career spanned 60 years as a singer, instrumentalist, composer and bandleader...

 record "Blue Yodel Number Seven" which Spottswood played him subsequently, with altering the course of his life.

Although he has relocated to Florida, he continues to host a weekly two-hour radio program called "The Dick Spottswood Show", which he has jokingly referred to as the Obsolete Music Hour, on Washington D.C. radio station WAMU
WAMU is a public radio station that services the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The station broadcasts on 88.5 FM, online at wamu.org, and on HD Radio at 88.5-HD1, 2 and 3. WAMU is on-air 24 hours a day. It is licensed to American University, and its studios are located near the campus...

. He is an expert on bluegrass music
Bluegrass music
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music...

 (having co-founded Bluegrass Unlimited
Bluegrass Unlimited
Bluegrass Unlimited is a monthly music magazine "dedicated to the furtherance of bluegrass and old-time musicians, devotees and associates." First published in 1966, as of 2008 the magazine had a circulation of more than 25,000 copies and is widely considered the premier magazine for bluegrass music...

magazine in 1966) and on the history of recorded ethnic music of the early 20th century generally. Spottswood is a founding member of The Association for Recorded Sound Collections, and was awarded their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. On October 1, 2009, The International Bluegrass Music Association presented Spottswood with their Distinguished Service Award in Nashville, Tennessee.

External links