George W. Johnson (1846–1914) was the first African American to make phonograph records, for New Jersey Phonograph Company in 1890. His recorded oeuvre consisted of a small repertoire, mainly tunes such as "The Laughing Song," "The Whistling Coon," "The Laughing Coon," and "The Whistling Girl." During his recording career Johnson would record these selections dozens of times, for many different record companies, including Edison, Columbia, and Victor. Johnson's style, while simple and down-home, was comparatively free of the caricatures that normally marked African American dialect material of the period.
Biography George Washington Johnson
Recorded Sound Research Center
The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America
Performing Arts Encyclopedia