King Records: The Lost History of Rock & Roll Exhibition Opens at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

. September 1, 2016

CINCINNATI, OH – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, in partnership with King Studios LLC, announced the opening of new exhibit, King Records: The Lost History of Rock & Roll today. The traveling exhibit, funded and developed by the Community Building Institute and ArtsWave, is a part of Cincinnati’s citywide King Records month celebration. The exhibit is the first installment of a three-part series that will explore King Records’ thirty years as a record company. King Records: The Lost History of Rock & Roll is located in the Grand Hall and included in general admission.

September 2016 marks the 73rd anniversary of the first songs recorded for the Cincinnati label. Syd Nathan convinced two WLW radio performers, Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis, to go along with his latest brainstorm—a record company based in Cincinnati—in September 1943. This four-song session would lead to King Records producing nearly 30 years of music in all genres while based out of the Queen City. September will be a month long celebration, honoring the founding of Nathan’s company and its contribution to American music, with events planned around the city. More than 35, mostly-free, events are scheduled and include concerts, displays, author visits, album listening parties, radio shows and even a chance to buy your own King vinyl or compact discs at a discounted price.

“We are pleased to be a part of the citywide celebration of King Records,” says Dr. Michael Battle, executive vice president and provost of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Its roots began in the Queen City, but the legacy of King Records has transcended race, culture and time, providing a platform for many of the world’s greatest artists. This engaging exhibit will educate and empower a new generation of music lovers to continue Cincinnati’s tradition of supporting the arts.”

King Records: The Lost History of Rock & Roll consists of 10 professionally designed banners that provide an overview of the first ten years of label’s history (1943 – 1954) and its role in the development of rock and roll music. Producing, marketing and distributing both R&B and country music in the post-World War II period, King Records began to cross the boundaries of these two music genres in the late 1940s. The exhibit will also be accompanied by music recorded at King Records during this time period.

“The goal of King Studios is to expose and energize the unparalleled musical legacy of King Records,” says Chris Schadler, King Studios Program Manager. “The exhibition’s purpose is to provide evidence supporting the claim that Cincinnati and King Records is the birthplace of the American art-form, rock and roll.”

King Records: The Lost History of Rock & Roll is now open at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and is included in general admission. The full schedule of anniversary events taking place across the city can be found at For more information, visit

Category: Museum News

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