What's Going On
What's Going On : Celebrating King Records
Date posted: May 1, 2015
Posted by: Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
Photo: Provided by www.cincinnatilibrary.org
The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park will salute the legacy of Cincinnati’s
own King Records with a one-of-a-kind celebration in Over-the-Rhine’s
Washington Park on Sunday, May 31. Celebrating King Records will
feature an evening of food, music and memories, capped with an exciting
staged concert reading of KJ Sanchez’s play CINCINNATI KING. The
event launches the OTR Performs series and is also included as part of this
year’s Cincinnati Fringe Festival.
Sanchez has described CINCINNATI KING as a “theatrical album” about
the history of Cincinnati music, racial equality and the legendary rhythm
and blues label.
Celebrating King Records festivities will begin at 5 p.m. with music and
theatre activities for children and the chance to explore memorabilia from
King Studios. Legendary King Records studio drummer Philip Paul and his quartet will kick off the evening’s
entertainment at 5:30 p.m. with a performance of the label’s greatest hits and behind-the-scenes stories. The staged
concert reading of CINCINNATI KING will be presented at 7 p.m. Throughout the evening, food trucks and beverage
sales will be available in the park.
Playhouse Artistic Director Blake Robison commissioned KJ Sanchez, one of the theatre’s associate artists, to create the
play. Sanchez is the founder and CEO of American Records, a company devoted to making theatre that chronicles our
time. The CINCINNATI KING project was designed to collect and share stories that preserve a unique part of
Cincinnati’s history, foster understanding and ignite dialogue.
What began as an investigation specifically into the history of King Records quickly took on broader meaning thanks to
Syd Nathan’s unique contributions to the music industry and to Cincinnati at large. Nathan founded King Records in
1943 as a country label. King’s sister labels, Queen and Federal, became immensely successful for fulfilling the needs of
a different audience and supporting the growing popularity of African-American rhythm and blues artists. Iconic singer
James Brown started his career at King Records.
King Records became one of the most successful independent labels of the 1940s and 1950s. Nathan revolutionized the
industry by keeping the entire production process in house, recording, mastering, printing, pressing and shipping all of
the albums King produced. At the same time, he employed both blacks and whites, who worked side by side, inside and
outside of the studio. King Records was one of the first integrated industries in Cincinnati.
Working with a group of Playhouse board and staff members, drama students from the University of Cincinnati College-
Conservatory of Music and community volunteers, Sanchez compiled CINCINNATI KING from transcripts of
interviews with nearly 50 people from across the Tristate. Additional material was drawn from recordings Nathan
himself made, as well as newspaper clippings and books written about King Records.
For more details about Celebrating King Records, visit the Playhouse website at www.cincyplay.com.
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