The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University has acquired the renowned Spring Fed Records from the Arts Center of Cannon County. The Arts Center has donated the Grammy-winning label’s name and rights and sold its existing inventory to MTSU, said Dr. Greg Reish, the Center for Popular Music’s new director. Founded in 2002, Spring Fed Records is devoted to issuing unique and historically significant recordings of traditional Southern music, including old-time country, blues and gospel. Among its featured titles are music by Uncle Dave Macon, Sam and Kirk McGee, The Fairfield Four, Frazier Moss and Mississippi John Hurt.
Spring Fed’s compilation of field recordings by pioneering African-American folklorist John Work III won a Grammy in 2008 for its liner notes by former CPM staffer Bruce Nemerov. The label established a strong partnership with MTSU and the Center for Popular Music from its inception with contributions from Nemerov, former CPM director Paul Wells and the late Dr. Charles Wolfe, a venerated scholar of traditional music. “Spring Fed’s regional emphasis on traditional music fits well with the CPM’s mission and will allow us to explore even further the vast repository of historically and culturally significant recordings in the CPM archive,” Reish said.
The Center for Popular Music is affiliated with MTSU’s College of Mass Communication and is housed in the Bragg Mass Communication Building on campus. Production and marketing of new Spring Fed releases will also work in cooperation with the College of Mass Communication’s highly regarded Department of Recording Industry program, giving students the opportunity to work in a specialized sector of the business.
Beverly Keel, recording industry department chair, said the acquisition is “a wonderful opportunity both for the music of Spring Fed Records and for MTSU, which has one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious music business programs and the highly esteemed Center for Popular Music. “Our students will get a chance to gain real-world experience by promoting this music and scholars everywhere will have the opportunity to study the history of Spring Fed at MTSU.”
Ken Paulson, dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, added that the addition of “Spring Fed Records gives MTSU an extraordinary opportunity to use the recordings of the past to enhance the college’s future. The label adds a new dimension to our educational opportunities and underscores the pivotal role the Center for Popular Music plays in the College of Mass Communication.”
Spring Fed will be housed in the Center for Popular Music, and CPM staffer John Fabke will manage its day-to-day operations. A new marketing and sales structure, including a new website, will roll out soon. The Spring Fed catalog is distributed by City Hall Records of San Rafael, California. Selected titles are also available as digital downloads from Amazon.com, iTunes and CD Baby.
The Center for Popular Music at MTSU is a research center devoted to the study and scholarship of popular music in America. Established in 1985 by the Tennessee Board of Regents as one of 16 Centers of Excellence across the TBR system, MTSU’s CPM maintains an archive of research materials stretching from the early 18th century to the present and develops and sponsors programs in American vernacular music.
For more information on the Center for Popular Music and its projects and special events, visit http://popmusic.mtsu.edu.