Vivian Carter

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Vivian Carter (March 25, 1921 – June 12, 1989) was an African American record company executive and radio disc jockey, and one of the co-founders of Vee-Jay Records.


She was born in Tunica, Mississippi and moved to Gary, Indiana as a child. She met Jimmy Bracken, later her husband, in 1944, and in 1948 won a talent contest conducted by Al Benson for new radio deejays in Chicago. She worked first at WGES in Chicago, and then WJOB in Hammond, Indiana. In 1950, Carter and Bracken founded Vivian's Record Shop in Gary.[1]

In 1953, the couple decided to set up a new record company, Vee-Jay Records, taking its name from their initials. Later, they brought in her brother Calvin Carter as the company's A&R man.[2]

During the 1950s and early 1960s Vee-Jay grew to become a major independent record label with acts including The Spaniels, Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Gene Chandler, Jerry Butler, The Four Seasons and, for a time, The Beatles. Meanwhile, Vivian Carter Bracken continued to work in radio. This was undoubtedly a significant factor in attracting talent to their label.[3] However, the company folded in 1966. See main article, Vee-Jay Records

After her husband's death in 1972, she returned from California to Gary, where she was active in radio well into the 1980s. Following a stroke she died in a nursing home in 1989.