Lillian McMurry and the Blues Contracts of Trumpet Records
60 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2017 Last revised: 2 Aug 2018
Date Written: September 11, 2017
Trumpet Records was a Jackson, Mississippi-based record label established and run by Lillian McMurry from 1950 until it folded in 1955. This article draws on archival material to evaluate the progression of the contracts entered into by Trumpet Records with its blues artists, arguing that this demonstrates the evolving contractual understanding of a young record label, showing increasing sophistication and an awareness of some of the potential pitfalls of signing artists. The contracts of Trumpet Records, when taken together with the correspondence of the label’s head with her artists, also show a commitment to fairness and a level of scrupulousness and honesty not often seen in the industry. The article also examines the legal dispute between Sherman Johnson and Trumpet Records, which reached the Mississippi Supreme Court. The article further turns to the subsequent copyright infringement of a number of Trumpet Record recordings by European record labels in the 1970s, which sheds light on the widespread practice of piracy prevalent in relation to older blues recordings.
Keywords: blues, music, contracts, contract law, sonny boy williamson, lillian mcmurry, trumpet records, copyright, mississippi, contracts
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