STAMPS-BAXTER MUSIC AND PRINTING COMPANY
STAMPS-BAXTER MUSIC AND PRINTING COMPANY. The Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Company, a leading publisher of gospel music, was founded in 1924 by V. O. Stamps, who subsequently entered into partnership with J. R. Baxter Jr., a former employee of A. J. Showalter. The partners had become close friends over a period of years, during which they represented competing music-publishing companies. Though their personalities were quite different, they were said to complement each other. Dwight Brock, who later became part owner of the Stamps-Baxter Company, described Stamps as the promoter and Baxter as the businessman. They were partners and sole owners of the business. Stamps served as president, with his office in Jacksonville, Texas, and later in Dallas. Baxter, as vice president, opened an office in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A third office was later opened in Pangburn, Arkansas.
From its inception, Stamps-Baxter enjoyed success unprecedented in the publication of gospel music. In addition to Stamps's ability to attract major songwriters to his company, line up the best quartets, and hire the most gifted instructors to conduct music schools, the company operated a radio station and published one of the industry's leading magazines, Gospel Music News. The popularity of the Stamps Quartet was aided by the daily Stamps broadcast on station KRLD. Through these broadcasts the company's singing schools, singing conventions, and published materials were successfully promoted. The Stamps-Baxter singing "normals," classes in which shape-note music was taught, became so popular that the company began hosting an "All Night Singing," broadcast on KRLD, at the end of the June class. The first of these events was held in the Cotton Bowl and was broadcast internationally.
The leadership of the company changed in 1940 upon the sudden death of Stamps. Baxter became president and manager, and Frank Stamps, brother of V. O., was made vice president and sales manager. Intending to maintain the company's previous level of success, Baxter pushed forward new ideas for publication and implemented a subscription plan originally conceived by V. O. Stamps. Though the years during World War II were difficult, the company continued to be profitable. In 1943 the Pangburn office turned profits of 25 percent above the previous year.
But the singing school declined in popularity after the war, and interest in conventional gospel music shifted to the rural population. Quartets soon found that they no longer needed the support of the publishing companies and began to promote themselves, capitalizing on the public's demand for entertainment. In 1945, for reasons unknown, Frank Stamps left the company and formed his own rival business, the Stamps Quartet Music Company. With the Stamps-Baxter Music Company, Frank had served as manager of all radio stations and of the well-known Stamps Quartet. In addition, he was vice president in charge of sales and had made many business contacts, which he retained to the benefit of the new company. Fourteen other former Stamps-Baxter employees joined him. With his resignation, he retained control of the radio programs, which had been established by V. O. Stamps, as well as the name of the Stamps Quartet. He soon had signed some thirty-five singing groups to come under the management of the new company and also established his own Stamps Quartet School of Gospel Music. As a result, the public was confused, and many unwittingly gave support to the new, rival company, being unaware of the change that had taken place.
By the following year, however, Stamps-Baxter had recovered from the effects of Frank's departure sufficiently to begin expanding again by purchasing the assets of Samuel W. Beazley and Son, based in Chicago. The company continued under the leadership of J. R. Baxter until his death in 1960, when his wife, "Ma" Baxter, became sole owner and manager of Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Company. Under her leadership the company expanded and built a new office building in Dallas.
When Mrs. Baxter died in 1972, she willed the company to four employees: Lonnie B. Combs, Clyde Roach, Videt Polk, and Dwight Brock. As Brock, Roach, and Combs were nearing retirement age when they inherited the company, in 1974 the group decided to make a deal with the Zondervan Corporation of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to carry on the work of Stamps-Baxter. In the arrangement, the name Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Company was retained, as was the staff of writers. The company's magazine, Gospel Music News, continued uninterrupted, with P. J. Zondervan, the new company president, assuring readers in his introductory article that the Zondervan Corporation was committed to reaching "everyone on the earth with the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ… through Stamps-Baxter Music." Zondervan was acquired by HarperCollins Publishers in 1988 and subsequently ended its music publishing in 1992.
Shirley L. Beary, "The Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Company: A Continuing Tradition, 1926–1976" (D.M.A. dissertation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1977). Stanley Heard Brobston, Daddy Sang Lead: The History and Performance Practice of White Southern Gospel Music (New York: Vantage Press, 2006). Don Cusic, The Sound of Light: A History of Gospel and Christian Music (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hal Leonard, 2002). Precious Memories of Virgil O. Stamps (Dallas: Stamps-Baxter, 1941).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Greg Self, "STAMPS-BAXTER MUSIC AND PRINTING COMPANY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ehs03), accessed November 27, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on August 26, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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