By the early twentieth century, Tennessee was becoming an important center for the production and consumption of gospel music. In 1903, James D. Vaughan (1863–1941) founded his eponymous music company in Lawrenceville, a small town in the southeastern corner of the state that also served as a distribution hub for northwest Georgia’s Showalter Music Company. With gospel music flourishing to its south, Nashville was emerging as a center of denominational publishing. Major white and black denominations, including the African Methodist Episocal Church (founded 1816), the Southern Baptist Convention (founded 1845), and the National Baptist Convention (founded 1880), established headquarters and active publishing houses in what became known as “Music City.” Nashville was also home to several institutions of higher learning, including the historically black Fisk University. Founded in 1866, Fisk gained global renown for its touring group of Jubilee Singers that performed spirituals and folk songs collected by university faculty such as John W. Work II (1873–1925) and Frederick Work (1879–1942).
—Jesse P. Karlsberg