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From 1943 to 1949, the United States Army and Navy operated one of the most important and successful musical ventures in the United States: the recording and manufacturing of over twenty-five hundred songs on nine hundred Victory Discs.  Meant to increase morale and boost the spirits of millions of homesick and war-weary troops around the world, V-Discs captured in time some of the most successful and popular recording artists of the era.  From Bing Crosby and Duke Ellington to Frank Sinatra and Big Bill Broonzy, these discs secured the sounds and sentiments of a nation determined to employ American popular music as a tool for cultural diplomacy and a weapon of war.  

In reality, a series of recording strikes throughout the 1940s left many of the nation’s most prolific songwriters and accomplished musicians with few options to record. Recognizing the need for supplying the war effort with the sounds of American music, the United States Army gambled on a new business venture that could place out of work musicians back in the studio and provide a welcoming American soundtrack for an uneasy age. The U.S. government’s six-year vision led to the manufacture and distribution of eight million discs documenting a wide array of successful American music in nearly every popular style and format.

This program transformed the U.S. military’s relationship to labor and the recording industry, reemployed dozens of out of work music industry professionals, revolutionized recording technologies, and helped centralize American music as an incredibly potent factor within the United States armed forces wartime infrastructure and culture.    

Professor Kevin D Greene is director of The Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, University of Southern Mississippi 

All welcome- but booking is required.

Please note that registration for this seminar will close 24 hours in advance. Details about how to join the seminar will be circulated via email to registered attendees 24 hours in advance.