Family & city leaders work to designate Cleveland’s first black-owned recording studio as a historic landmark

CLEVELAND — Cleveland rocks!

We all know that.

After all, it’s home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and countless artists.

But did you know the city’s first-ever black-owned recording studio is nestled away in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood?

The family behind the space is working to designate it as a historic landmark and further celebrate its accomplishments to help educate the next generation.

The Boddie’s made a name for themselves over the years.

Their recording studio was convenient and affordable, bringing in a melting pot of talent over the years until it ultimately closed and Mr. Boddie passed away.

The black-owned business broke down barriers and inspired others to achieve their dreams.

Black and white photograph after photograph captures the memories and talent of decades past.

“They recorded the Temptations, Sonny and Cher, Ike and Tina Turner, The Kinks. The list goes on and on,” Dennis Boddie, Son of Thomas and Louise Boddie said.

“Lou Rawls came here back in the day,” Louise Boddie, Co-Owner of Boddie Recording Company, said.

Located at 12202 Union Avenue, you’ll find history and soul in real form.

It’s the home of the former Boddie Recording Company, where the late Thomas Boddie and his wife Louise made music their passion.

They launched several labels and pressed thousands of records there.

Louise says they were a true dream team.

“We just kinda worked hand-in-hand doing different things, and we recorded in the building behind me,” Louise said.

R&B, country, rock ’n’ roll and soul were all recorded here.

Artists traveled from near and far to make their mark in the industry.

“They called us little Nashville for a while because they came all the way from Nashville,” Louise said.

They also took their business on the road.

The couple paved the way for Black entrepreneurs and artists during a time when all odds were stacked against them, including the Hough riots and nationwide racial division.

Dennis applauds his parent’s courage and work ethic every single day.

He reads about their drive from the pages of a book, “CHASING SOUND: Technology, Culture, and the Art of Studio Recording from Edison to the LP” by Susan Schmidt Horning.

“As African American entrepreneurs, the Boddie’s faced formidable obstacles in attempting to build their business in the racially turbulent Cleveland.”

“We got this place. He turned it into a studio. I remember him laying the bricks and the foundation to put the boiler and the pressing plant in the back,” Dennis said.

Ward Four Cleveland City Councilwoman Deborah Gray says the Boddie’s deserve recognition and praise.

She and the family are now working to designate the space as a historic city landmark and educational center for the next generation.

“It’s a place where people will learn about musical history, about the recording studio, about all the entertainers,” Gray said.

“This is my parent’s dream, and dreams should be lived to fruition,” Dennis said.

Louise is co-signing their efforts and encouraging others to dream big.

“I want them to learn that you can be whatever you want them to be.”

Dennis says he would love to make the space a museum if they get the necessary approval.

To designate the site as a historic landmark, various committees need to greenlight it, including Cleveland City Council.

News 5 will continue to track the process.

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