Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at the early recording artists I have in my collection.
Ernest L. Stevens Trio. Ernest Stevens was Thomas Edison's personal pianist-arranger from 1922 to 1924 when Edison was experimenting with recording sounds and making recordings on wax cylinders. Stevens, born in Elizabeth, New Jersey on December 15, 1894, was involved with music until his death in Montclair, New Jersey on April 6, 1981. His basic musical training was in Plainfield, New Jersey, with Howard Case. A study of the pipe organ was with the well-known Mark Andrews (who made many pipe organ recordings) in Montclair, New Jersey. From 1917 to 1919 he made piano rolls for Aeolian, Piano Style, Gulbransen and Rose Valley companies. In 1919 he began making test records for the Edison Studios in West Orange. Mr. Edison hired Ernest to be his personal pianist in testing for the proper procedure to record on cylinders. His test records were used to evaluate placement of instruments relative to the recording horn. He was a prolific Edison recording artist, appearing on the Edison label as solo pianist, a member of his own trio and dance quartet and was the leader of his own dance orchestra. Records for Edison were under pseudonyms.