Jack White was a guest speaker at Yale last night, as part of a panel that discussed the recent release from White’s Third Man Records The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume Two. The universities African-American Studies department invited both White and Revenant Records owner Dean Blackwood, as well as authors Greil Marcus and Scott Blackwood, and artist Adia Victoria to discuss not only the release of the record, but more importantly the historical impact that Paramount Records had in giving voice to artists that would have otherwise never had an opportunity, due to their race.

While Blackwood noted that Paramount was more focused on the economic side of things, the historical and cultural impact that came about from this was essentially, albeit inadvertently, ingrained in their main purpose of selling their speaker cabinets, and basically would sign any artist that could generate additional revenue, effectively driving the “race record” industry.

“They had no preservationist mission. They had no egalitarian mission. Nothing like that,” Blackwood said. “But they were uniquely comprehensive in their representing people who otherwise would be without a voice, especially in what they called ‘race records,’ which were black performers marketed to black audiences.”

The event acted as a listening session for the audience, with each speaker picking a pair of songs to share. Reporting on the event, Jed Finley wrote that White chose “Blind Blake’s ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ and Charley Patton’s ‘Spoonful Blues.’ Marcus followed the blues theme in choosing ‘Hard Time Killin’ for Blues’ by Skip James and ‘Last Kind Word Blues’ by Geeshie Wiley. White said he chose ‘Spoonful Blues’ because of the song’s emotional intensity as well as its blend of religious and secular themes.”

[via Yale Daily News & Stereogum]