Monday, 26 May 2014

Heritage Spotlight - Queer Music Heritage

One of the biggest resources for historians is the internet, and for the music industry this provides an ideal means of preserving its aural heritage.

QueerMusic Heritage (QMH) is one of the best online resources for anyone interested in the history of lgbt popular music of all genres. What isn’t covered by QMH is classical music. It is the brainchild of J. D. Doyle (b.1947). Although he didn’t start collecting records seriously until the 1970s the music of his childhood provided the basis for his first collection. The 1950s saw the start of the modern pop music industry and the charts, but Doyle also collected records of all genres during this period – musicals, international artists, cabaret, etc.

In the 1990s Doyle began to concentrate on collecting music with lgbt connections – queer music – by sexuality of the recording artist or content of lyrics. Selling most of his collection, the part which had no queer connections, he began to amass what could be considered to be the world’s biggest collection of queer music in private hands. Added to this are almost 15 years of monthly broadcasts and other archive material. He also extended his range of collection to include recordings from the 1920s right up to the most recent MP3 file.

Doyle’s move into broadcasting began in 2000 after he made several requests to a producer at the KPFT radio station in Houston, Texas, to play more queer music. The producer gave him a slot on his lgbt “After Hours” programme, and this led to Doyle being offered a regular slot co-hosting a programme called “Queer Voices”.

Queer Music heritage began as a 30-minute segment on “Queer Voices” but has since been extended and has occasionally lasted several hours. QMH airs once a month and takes a specific theme for each broadcast.

Most of Doyle’s broadcasts also include interviews with artists, and this provides an authoritative record of their work. Interviewees have included Janis Ian, Tom Robinson, RuPaul, and Randy Jones of The Village People.

If you want to get a good idea of the range of genres and periods QMH covers go to this index page, or go to the chronological list of broadcasts here.

Queer Music Heritage has provided inspiration for many of my past and future articles for this year’s celebration of music, and I hope you find QMH as informative and entertaining as I do.

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