Founded in 1953 by husband-and-wife team Vivian Carter and James Bracken ("V" and "J"), Vee-Jay is historic for being one of the first black-owned and first woman-owned labels. Based just outside of Chicago, they quickly became a top indie label that regularly turned out superb R&B, urban blues and, later, jazz, folk and gospel.
Their catalog includes over 5,000 master recordings from renowned artists such as Little Richard, John Lee Hooker, Betty Everett, Jimmy Reed, Jerry Butler, the Staple Singers and Gene Chandler and the Dells.
Fun fact: They were also the first U.S. record company to release recordings by the Beatles.
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