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Info: Harry C. Browne

Pete Peterson 18 Oct 99 - 01:31 PM
GUEST, 18 Aug 05 - 02:48 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 18 Aug 05 - 08:21 PM
GUEST 09 Nov 11 - 03:17 PM
Mark Ross 09 Nov 11 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,Pamela Wolfe Browne 06 May 12 - 08:27 PM
GUEST,Debbie 09 Jun 13 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,Maat 14 May 14 - 04:58 PM
GUEST,Mr. Olorin 20 May 14 - 03:42 AM
GUEST 05 Jul 16 - 12:46 AM
GUEST,pauperback 05 Jul 16 - 02:28 AM
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Subject: Harry C. Browne
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 18 Oct 99 - 01:31 PM

Does anybody know anything about Harry C. Browne?
What little I know-- he played classical banjo and he recorded for Columbia I believe around 1905-1915. He sang gospel music (with the Peerless Quartette) and non-PC music of the ragtime era (with the Knickerbocker Quartette, who I suspect are the same people) the songs are wonderful but I have had to change the lyrics to make them singable. I have a tape of about 20 of his songs but no information about the man himself.

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Subject: RE: Harry C. Browne
From: GUEST,
Date: 18 Aug 05 - 02:48 PM


I was checking your posts to this forum in a moment of idleness while at work and came upon this one which is rather old. As you know I'm a member of the ABF (American Banjo Fraternity) and an irregular attendee at the rallies. Elias Kaufman is an, if not the, authority on the history of the banjo as well as being the editor of (and major contributor to) the ABF publication "The FIve Stringer". Eli told me that Harry was at one time a member of the ABF in its early days (c. 1948). He was from Massachusetts and his father was a banjo player and minstrel show performer as well.

I'll likely see Eli either in October if and when I go to the ABF Rally or in December at the Banjo Collectors' Gathering in DC. I 'll see what additional information I can get and pass it along. I have ncouraged you to join the ABF many years ago. I hope if you haven't, you will. The Rallies are interesting, fun and occasionally stressful and the FIve Stringer is terrific. Eli is a fund of information and a fine fellow.

Hope this finds you well. Perhaps we'll run into one another one of these days.

Bob Bell

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Subject: RE: Harry C. Browne
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 18 Aug 05 - 08:21 PM

Hi Bob,
Too long since we've made music together! I still have tapes from the old Labor Day parties when you would come, classical banjo in hand, and get my mother to sight read piano rags. . . good times! We're good-- hope maybe you'll get to one of OUR parties and I've filed your email!

I've learned more about Browne via the British Archive of Country Music which has released a CD of 20 of his songs, many of which are new both to me and Tim Woodbridge, my source for the tape which I referred to in my original post. He was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, went on to a career as a minstrel entertainer (about 1915-1922, just before Fiddling John Carson started) and then after a time working for Columbia Records, became a high official in the Christian Science church. I wish I could go on to say that he died of untreated appendicitis, but it isn't true.


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Subject: RE: Harry C. Browne
Date: 09 Nov 11 - 03:17 PM

Somewhre I read that he became a high officer in the Church of

Christian Science. That may be why his minstral music past was

erased, so a not to embarass him in later years.

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Subject: RE: Harry C. Browne
From: Mark Ross
Date: 09 Nov 11 - 03:45 PM

Check with Hank Sapoznik who just presented a paper on Browne at the Banjo Collectors gathering.

Mark Ross

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Subject: RE: Harry C. Browne
From: GUEST,Pamela Wolfe Browne
Date: 06 May 12 - 08:27 PM

My late husband, Harry Edson Browne, was an American free-market Libertarian writer and the Libertarian Party's 1996 & 2000 candidate for President of the United States. He was the nephew of Harry C. (Clinton) Browne. Uncle Harry was a native of North Adams, Massachusetts and attended their public schools. When the Spanish-American War broke out, he enlisted with the Second Massachusetts Regiment of Infantry and saw active service in Cuba in the Santiago Campaign.

After the war, he entered vaudeville as a banjo player and minstrel singer. He quickly became a Columbia Records and Harmony recording artist and made approximately fifty-five phonograph records. You can listen to some of his recordings on YouTube.

In 1900, according to a July, 1901 newspaper article in Sandusky Ohio's The Register, "he was 'stumping' for William Jennings Bryan."

In 1904 he grew interested in the theater, and for two years he toured the United States and Canada performing in stock and repertoire. In 1906, he made his Broadway debut in the musical play, "My Wife Won't Let Me." Then he went on to perform with many of the foremost theatrical producers and actors in at least thirteen more Broadway plays including "The Case of Becky" with Francis Starr.
He was also a silent screen star who appeared in thirteen films from 1914 to 1921 with co-stars Lillian Russell, Mary Pickford, Constance Talmadge, Frances Starr, Hazel Dow and several other leading ladies.
In 1921, he starred in the movie, "Closed Doors."

In 1926, Uncle Harry left the theater. He took a job as station director of WGHP in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. Then he went to work for CBS as a production director, announcer, and when needed, he used his playwriting skills on programs.

In addition to conceiving the Cap'n Kidd program for CBS, Uncle Harry produced and starred in the very popular program, Hank Simmons' Show Boat in late 1928. In the Milwaukee Sentinel on Sunday, November 16, 1930 the headline read, "Accident inspired Browne to Start his 'Show Boat.' Need for substitute program brought idea; Founder Once Well Known Stage and Screen Star." In the article it stated, "…..In manner he is modest, quiet, and efficient. Has no radio mannerisms. Treats his cast – which is still intact – like one big family."

Although the Cap'n Kidd and Hank Simmons' Show Boat programs were extremely popular radio shows, Uncle Harry resigned from CBS in 1931 to devote his full time to the public practice of Christian Science healing. Two years after he left the entertainment business my late husband was born, and his father named him after his older brother whom he greatly admired. The following year Uncle Harry began serving as First Reader of The Mother Church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston Massachusetts. In 1938 he began serving as First Reader of Second Church of Christ, Scientist, in New York City.

The following year he was named a Christian Science lecturer by the Church and traveled all across the United States lecturing. He also served as Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. Then in 1948 he was elected president of the Mother Church where he served through 1949.

Up until just a couple of months before his death, Uncle Harry was heard regularly by an international audience on a 15-minute weekly Christian Science radio program. Each broadcast consisted of a believer's own account of a real-life crisis, followed by Uncle Harry's "vest-pocket sermon." When he died on November 15, 1954 the headline in the North Adams Transcript stated, "Harry C. Browne, 76, Passes Away, Forsook Stardom for Religion."

I am currently writing my husband's biography in which a section of his family history chapter is about his uncle, Harry C. Browne, for whom he was named. Unfortunately, Uncle Harry died when my late husband was only 21 years old. But in the biography I state, "My husband told me several times that he remembered his Uncle Harry fondly because he was a very benevolent, modest, and kind man."

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Subject: RE: Harry C. Browne
From: GUEST,Debbie
Date: 09 Jun 13 - 01:38 PM

Interesting writing on Harry C. Browne. I have inherited some of records, as well as others in his time period on O'Keh, Columbia, Harmony and other labels. Thank you for the detailed history.

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Subject: RE: Harry C. Browne
From: GUEST,Maat
Date: 14 May 14 - 04:58 PM

You did not mention the horrible racist song he did about " niggers love their watermelon!" It's all about the church now...did he regret being a racist? Did think God or his church was only for white people!

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Subject: RE: Harry C. Browne
From: GUEST,Mr. Olorin
Date: 20 May 14 - 03:42 AM

The OP notes that Mr. Browne's songs were not politically correct, originating 100 years ago when society was less so as well--including in his birthplace of liberal Massachusetts, which never was a slave-owning state.

But you have to huff in after, I presume, a Google search, after, I presume, hearing something on NPR...and then hijack an intelligent discussion of American musical history while trying to coin for yourself Superiority Bling, using the word "racist" twice, "nigger," once, an anti-white slur once, and slurs against his chosen faith.

Based on your own example, I'll bet you have absolutely no trouble yourself making racist or categorically stereotyping comments against people you personally despise. In brief, Maat, you are a featherhead. Good luck facing the scales of the underworld with that.

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Subject: RE: Harry C. Browne
Date: 05 Jul 16 - 12:46 AM

Harry C. Browne also recorded other racist songs I'm afraid, including "I Loves You Mister Coon"/De Colored Barbecue (Columbia A-3678, 1922).

"Nigger Loves a Watermelon, Ha! Ha! Ha! came out in 1916 as Columbia A1999.

Reminding anyone interested in the career of Harry Clinton Browne that he recorded these is part of American music history. It is interesting to find openly racist songs reflecting the Jim Crow mood of the time.

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Subject: RE: Info: Harry C. Browne
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 05 Jul 16 - 02:28 AM

Prison/Slave philosophy - go along to get along

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