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Rodeo Records Company History Essay

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Updated: Mar 16th, 2020

Rodeo Records is the Canadian music recording company which was founded in 1949. The company’s labels became known all over the world because of the company’s focus on promoting folk music not only in Canada but also in the United States, Australia, and Europe. The significant collection of the Rodeo Records’ archival materials is stored in Cape Breton University’s Beaton Institute.

These materials provide a lot of information on the history of Rodeo Records as the famous music recording company which influenced the popularity of the folk and country music in the 1950s-1980s. To focus on the history of Rodeo Records, it is necessary to refer to the aspects of the company’s development and specific operations, features of the labels and music produced, and personalities of the represented artists.

Rodeo Records was founded in Montreal in 1949. George Taylor and Don Johnson gave the start to the music recording company as specializing in producing folk, country, western, and bluegrass music. Don Johnson moved to the United States, and George Taylor operated the company individually. In 1953, the company moved to Halifax, and the label Banff was founded.

In seven years, Taylor purchased the Celtic label, and the company continued to grow with issuing not only rpm recordings but also LPs disks. In 1962, the company was moved again to Montreal, and the Caprice label was established for the Francophone public. This period is famous for the company’s work with the Colonials and the Stringers. The Melbourne Records label was established in 1963 to promote the music of the Australian artists.

The company moved to Toronto in 1967, and 1969 was the year when Mel Shaw became the director of the Rodeo’s popular music sector. The period of the 1970s is famous for diversifying the company’s recordings with the focus on comedy, jazz, and other talents. In 1985, Frank Swain purchased the company (Artists Files). During its development, the company also owned such labels as the Canadian Cavalcade and Citadel.

Rodeo Records focused on producing many types of music such as folk, country and western, traditional music, gospel, and bluegrass. In this case, folk music is the traditional popular music genre which includes the elements of the people’s traditional signing and performing which are various in different regions.

Country music can be defined as played with electric instruments and guitars and including ballads. Gospel is based on the vocal, choirs, and electric guitars and drums. Bluegrass is interesting because of combining the elements of blues, jazz, country, and folk music performing with the help of banjos and guitars.

The history of Rodeo Records depends on the history of its artists. Mae Campbell Cameron was a native Cape Bretoner of the Hebridean ancestry, and Mae became known as the Gaelic soloist while working with the company. The MacDougall Girls Pipe Band was organized in Nova Scotia in 1952, and it won the first prizes in the festivals as the best performers of the Scottish music.

Dan Rory MacDonald was also born on Cape Breton Island, and he was known because of his success as a composer, a violinist, and a performer of the Scottish music. Kathleen Macmaster Beaton was born in Inverness County, and she was promoted as the performer of the Scottish music on the piano (Artists Files). These artists made a great contribution to the spread of Gaelic and Scottish folk music.

The archival materials related to Rodeo Records include a lot of information about the company’s operations. The presented contracts and accounting sheets provide the clear information about the details of the agreements between the company and artists who sold their works for $1 and received 3.5% related to the retail price of the sold reproductions.

Furthermore, the documents include the letters revealing the legal aspects of the operations (Financial Files). Thus, some points were mentioned in the letters to support the agreements such as the facts that no laws and regulations were contravened about the different union and copyright laws associated with the company’s activities.

The Rodeo Records collection provides a lot of archival materials which can be used to make an in-depth analysis of the company’s activities during several decades. Thus, the provided contracts and the lists of the purchased and recorded songs and music pieces present the significant information about the music genres on which the company focused and about the artists with whom the company preferred to work.

The letters are important to concentrate on the legal aspects of the agreements. Furthermore, the accounting sheets provide adequate information about the company’s profits and artists’ fees.

The recordings and albums are necessary to provide information about the types of music promoted by the company (Correspondence, Contracts, and Biographies). There are more than three hundreds of disks and more than one thousand audiotapes in the collection. Textual documents are stored in three boxes with artist and financial files.

To provide a more detailed analysis of Rodeo Records’ role in the spread of the country and folk music, it is necessary to focus on examining the company’s activities within the international context. Rodeo Records contributed significantly to the progress and popularity of folk music. Thus, the focus on the company’s international contribution is important.

Works Cited

Artists Files. 1957-1980. Box 3, Folder 1. The Rodeo Records Collection, Cape Breton University’s Beaton Institute, Sydney, Nova Scotia. 16 April 2014.

Correspondence, Contracts, and Biographies. 1957-1980. Box 1, Folder 1. The Rodeo Records Collection, Cape Breton University’s Beaton Institute, Sydney, Nova Scotia. 16 April 2014.

Financial Files. 1957-1980. Box 2, Folder 1. The Rodeo Records Collection, Cape Breton University’s Beaton Institute, Sydney, Nova Scotia. 16 April 2014.

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