Misha Crews

Love stories about old houses and family secrets.

My latest novel, Sweet Music, is centered around a music shop that has been owned by the Sullivan family for generations. Here’s something fun I found out when I was researching the story.

In 1888, Washington, DC was actually the hub of the burgeoning recording industry. Columbia Phonograph Company, who had franchising rights for Thomas Edison’s phonograph, had initially marketed the invention to congressmen and business executives. It was, in fact, and early version of the Dictaphone. During the session of Congress, between fifty and sixty machines in the capital city by senators and representatives.

627 E St. NW, Washington DC. The building still stands, and can be seen on Google Maps.

But the phonograph never really caught on as office equipment. Instead, Columbia executives decided to focus on the entertainment industry. To quote a 1995 article in The Washington Post:

“Coin-in-the-slot phonographs, the earliest version of jukeboxes, were proving enormously popular at arcades and exhibitions, the first time that many Americans had seen or heard of Edison’s invention. For a nickel apiece, as many as 10 passersby could listen through rubber tubes (primitive earphones) to a two-minute rendition of a Shakespeare soliloquy or the Gettysburg address. But now the public demanded music instead of talk, and Columbia answered the call.”

Eventually, Columbia Phonograph Company moved out of Washington. But as someone who grew up in and around DC, there’s something fun and magical about thinking of that city as the home of popular music.

At the bottom of this post is a recording of the type which would have been recorded at the Columbia Phonograph Company. (If you are reading this in an email, the video preview might not show up, so please visit my website if you’re not able to see it.)

In Sweet Music, Josie Sullivan fights to save her family music store. At the same time, she struggles against her attraction for Pete, the new guy in town. Can Josie and Pete solve the mystery of a local legend, a hidden room, and a suspicious death? Can Josie find the strength to fix her past mistakes and step into her mother’s shoes? Can their chance encounter become true love, or will their song remain forever unfinished?

If you’ve read Sweet Music, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments. And if it’s on your TBR, let me know about that too! ♡

And in the meantime, I’ll leave you with this question: What was the first record you ever listened to?


This rendition of When Summer Comes Again by George H. Diamond was recorded on a wax cylinder in 1893. This is an example of the kind of recordings made in Washington, DC at Columbia Phonograph Company. Who knew that the nation’s capital was also the home of “Top 40” music?


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