EUGENE D. SMALLWOOD GOSPEL MUSIC COLLECTION, 1931-1945, #456
By Deborra Richardson, August 21, 1992
Reverend Eugene D. Smallwood is a Gospel musician and choir leader who owned his own music publishing company. Some of the more famous Gospel musicians with whom he worked were Mahalia Jackson and the Roberta Martin Singers.
Scope and Content
The Eugene D. Smallwood Gospel Music Collection consists of an album of Gospel music scores collected or composed by Reverend Eugene D. Smallwood andnineteen additional loose scores published by Rev. Smallwood's company. The publication dates range from 1931 to 1945. The scores were performed by Reverend Smallwood's choirs. As a composer/arranger, Rev. Smallwood was often able to "correct" or re-arrange the compositions of others to suit his own style. If he felt the music was in the "wrong key", he transposed it himself. Some compositions were the work of such well known artists as Dr. Thomas A. Dorsey and Theodore Frye, whose portraits appear in the collection. The published music includes some additional illustrations of Gospel musicians, e.g. Rev.Smallwood; Ione B. Bouldin, Gospel singer; Earl Pleasant, Gospel singer; and the Universal Gospel singers. Many of the works are numbered according to the system that Rev. Smallwood used in the album, or dated according to his use of the arrangements.
Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, a staff member in the Division of Community Life, National Museum of American History, was instrumental in the acquisition of the collection. According to Dr. Reagon, the collection is unique because of Rev. Smallwood's use of an album of music which he kept intact. Although the music has been removed from the original album cover for the preservation purposes, this album is a written record of the performance of Gospel music by Reverend Smallwood and his choirs. The collection should prove to be of interest to anyone studying Gospel music and its creators.
The Smallwood collection was acquired through the auspices of Dr. Bernice Reagon. While doing research on Gospel music with the support of a MacArthur Fondation grant, from 1991 to 1992, she made several contacts with the originators of the Black Gospel music movement in the Americas. Dr. Smallwood was one of those contacts.