Famous Records

Famous Records got its start because Saul Karp (1925-1998) was the right man in the right place at the right time. Karp was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. By the 1950s the recording industry was booming in New York and the young Karp landed a job with Menorah Records which produced and distributed recordings of Jewish music. One night, Saul and his wife Eleanor were dining with friends, Cantor and Mrs. Moshe Koussevitsky. According to Mrs. Karp, it was Koussevitsky who first had the idea that Saul to make records of him singing live. That was the beginning of Famous Records.

Mrs. Karp remembers that, at the beginning, the recording sessions were often in the middle of the night. That was when the fee for studio recording time was the lowest. Soon other Jewish performers including Seymour Rexite and his wife Miriam Kressyn began recording with Famous Records. In addition to his work distributing Jewish recordings with the Famous label, Saul Karp also worked for Vanguard Records, which began as a classical label and later became known for challenging the blacklist by signing performers such as Paul Robeson and The Weavers.

In 1980 Saul Karp became ill and retired to California. At the time of his death in 1998 he was survived by his loving wife, Eleanor, his five children, 12 grandchildren and his first great-grandchild.


Rights to the recordings in this collection courtesy of Famous Records.