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CRA217 -- Vivian Carter Papers
  
Calumet Regional Archives

CRA 217: Photographs

Inventory

0.25 Linear Feet
October 2003
Revised November 2007; May 2008; Aug. 2012

Vivian Carter was a successful radio personality during the 1950s, owned a small record store in Gary, Indiana (1640 Broadway), and started a Gary-based record company, Vee Jay Records.  Carter was one of the first African-American female radio personalities.  She worked for WGES, WGRY, and WWCA-AM where she hosted her popular late-night program “Livin’ with Vivian.”

Vee Jay Records brought Carter her greatest success.  Carter; her husband, James Bracken; and her brother, Calvin Carter, produced their first record in 1953 from a small record store they owned on Broadway in Gary, Indiana.  This record, The Spaniels’ “Baby It’s You,” became an R&B hit.  By the 1960s, Vee Jay Records was putting out nationally acclaimed hit singles.

In 1962, the company signed the Beatles’ first contract in America and distributed their first record “Please Please Me” in 1963.  Other hit recording artists include Gladys Knight and the Pips, Gene Chandler, and The Four Seasons.  Due to mismanagement of funds, Vee Jay Records filed for bankruptcy in 1966, while they were still recording hits.

After Vee Jay Records failed, Carter remained in Gary working as a clerk and supervisor in the Calumet Township Trustee’s office.  She died in 1989.

 


Box File Description
1 1 Historical Information, (1995-2007)
2 Book excerpt, “Vee Jay Records” from Chicago Soul by Robert Pruter, 1991
3

Inventory lists, Vee Jay Records recorded singles, 1953-1966

4 Sheet music, “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight”, 1953
5 Program & ticket stub, Vivian Carter’s 8th Anniversary Show, 1957
6 Catalog, Vee Jay Re-release of Classics, Fall, 1993
7 Article, “The Vee Jay Story”, Goldmine, May, 1
8 Newsarticle, “’Livin’ with Vivian’ just the beginning”, Post-Tribune, May 14, 1989
9 Newsarticle, “Two Gary Music Scene Figures Die”, Post-Tribune, June 14, 1989
10 Newsarticle, “Vee Jay: Record Label’s Fall was as Meteoric as Its Rise”, Post-Tribune, November 17, 1991
11

Newsarticle, “Vivian Carter built Vee Jay into top R&B label”, Post-Tribune, November 2, 1992

12 Newsarticle, “Invasion starts here”, Post-Tribune, September 26, 1993
13

Newsarticle, “Found and lost: how a legendary band got away from a Gary-born record label”, Post-Tribune,                 August 23, 1998

14 Newsarticle, “Psst . . . Gary label lost its big chance”, The Times, December 5, 1999
15 Newsarticle, “Vee-Jay Records’ tumble was quicker than its rise to the top”, Post-Tribune, October 10, 2004
15a Newsarticle, "Rock's Hall of Fame Should Consider Gary's Spaniels, Vee Jay Matriarch," Post-Tribune, October 1, 2010
OVERSIZE    
2   Periodical, Goldmine, no. 60, May, 1981
  Newsarticle, “Found and lost: how a legendary band got away from a Gary-born record label”, Post-Tribune,             August 23, 1998
  Newsarticle, “Psst . . . Gary label lost its big chance”, The Times, December 5, 1999
 

Newsarticle, “Vee Jay has its day”, Post-Tribune, February 6, 2006

 

Newsarticles, (2), “Glory Days: Gary’s Vee-Jay Record label spawned a rich collection of hits”, The Times, October       14, 2007


Subject Tracings

  • African Americans
  • Beatles
  • Bracken, James
  • Carter, Calvin
  • Carter, Vivian
  • Gary (Ind.)
  • Music
  • Radio
  • Spaniels
  • Vee Jay Records
  • WGES
  • WGRY
  • WWCA