The Story and Music of Polk Miller and the Old South Quartette

The first time I heard a Polk Miller and His Old South Quartette cylinder record was 15 years ago and I’m still not quite over it. The 1909 Edison recordings are years ahead of their time and the 1928 QRS/Broadway recordings by the Old South Quartette are outstanding examples of pre-war American black gospel music. After discovering these amazing recordings, I also learned about the lives of Polk Miller and the Old South Quartette from Doug Seroff’s comprehensive article in 78 Quarterly from 1988. Both of these discoveries led me down the path to reissue high quality audio transcriptions of these recordings combined with the written history of Polk Miller and the Old South Quartette. This is an important story as this is one of the earliest examples of African Americans and whites making sound recordings together.

Reissuing historic recordings on CD has always been a challenge for the jewel-case. In an effort to improve the historic recording experience, I have issued this project as a nine-by-nine inch, 25 page booklet with the CD of the complete Polk Miller and Old South Quartette recordings inside the back cover. The CD includes the seven 1909 Edison cylinder records and the seven 1928 QRS/Broadway disc recordings. Regarding the text, African American music scholar, Doug Seroff, has been kind enough to completely rewrite and update his 78 Quarterly publication to reflect the many new discoveries over the last 18 years; the new publication is entitled “The Enigma of Polk Miller”. From many years of research, Doug is able to provide the story of Polk Miller’s transition from running a successful pharmacy to becoming a professional entertainer with African Americans.

Also included in this booklet are many images from the Polk Miller Scrapbooks, Edison literature, and photographs of the cylinder and 78 records.