Latimore: Nostalgic journey through music history

January 3, 2014 

Many young inspiring recording artists would be shocked to know what it took to be successful back in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Honestly, during those analog times, if you were not naturally talented, there was little hope of making it big in the music industry.

The digital age has unfolded a whole new dynamic, as far as recording is concerned.

Back then, there were disc jockeys such as John Gibson, who was better known as Jack The Rapper. He would invite artists to the radio stations. However, they had to perform their music live while on-air. Imagine how nervous those artists must have been about making a mistake during a live broadcast.

Not only did he break new artists, he broke new barriers by starting one of the the first black-owned radio stations in Atlanta. The call letters for the station were WERD. Ultimately, he landed a position doing publicity and promotions on a national level for Motown Records.

Now, let’s focus on the analog way of life. Records were characterized by their rotations per minute. We called them 33s, 45s and 78s. Underneath the music on records, you could hear a hiss of static, which seemed to be a natural part of the listening experience.

The reel-to-reel was another one used to play music. It looks somewhat like a film projector, but it only plays audio. I have witnessed my elders play music for a minimum of six hours at house parties and weddings with the reel-to-reel.

Then, there was the birth of the 8-track tape. They were installed in cars and almost every receiver I have ever seen. Afterward, we were introduced to the cassette tape. Little did we know, the digital days were about to become a huge part of our lives. How many remember copping their first compact disc?

Today, we are living in the world of digital downloads. There’s no need for record, cassette or CD racks, unless you’re a pack rat or collector like myself. Record label artists and repertoire are almost extinct because of the Internet and its capabilities.

Music programming on radio stations seems to consist of the same popular songs we all know, since up and coming recording artists have so many other avenues to make their music known. Not only do new artists have other avenues to distribute their music, they have the digital technology to enhance the quality and sounds of it.

Although it seems we are totally digital, there are some music engineers who still use analog methods. I still break out the reel-to-reel, 8-track and cassette players to take myself on a nostalgic journey. What about you?

Yolanda “Y-O” Latimore is founder of Poetic Peace Arts, Macon’s representative on the Knight National Arts Advisory Board and director of Like Water Publicity, a media and booking agency. Contact her at ylatimore@gmail.com.

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