Voice prof strikes a chord with discovery of rare, old music

Craig Phillips

Music professor Craig Phillips is having a blast with the past after uncovering the original arrangements for a singing group that wowed America in the 1920s and 30s.

Phillips’ interest in reviving the music of The Revelers has struck a chord, with stories on his quest appearing in The Register-Guard and Eugene Weekly. Other outlets around the country have picked up the story.

The Revelers brought a new sound to an American music scene that was just starting to diversify after the era of barbershop quartets and vaudeville. The four male singers were an international sensation when they began blending jazz into arrangements that attracted a huge radio audience.

In the Register-Guard story, Phillips says history has largely forgotten the group, in spite of its outsize role in American music.

“It’s hard to believe how this era (less than 100 years ago) has faded from our collective memory,” Phillips told the paper. “It was a wildly creative time in our history and a huge ‘flowering’ in terms of American popular culture! It’s not an exaggeration to say that The Revelers ... were pioneers of broadcast entertainment.”

Phillips discovered the original, handwritten arrangements for The Revelers’ music when he connected with a descendant of a later member of the group. He’s now working on bringing the music back to life.

To read more, see “UO prof preps for revival of The Revelers after discovery of rare music” in The Register-Guard or “Resurrecting The Revelers” in Eugene Weekly.