Sugar Hill


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In the late sixties,Barry Poss came to the United States from Canada with a fellowship and a student visa to obtain a doctorate’s degree of sociology from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Coming within one chapter of completing his dissertation, Poss answered a classified ad for a graphic artist placed by a small Virginia-based record label, County Records. Though Poss didn’t know anything about graphic design, he applied for the job anyway, admitting his lack of experience in design but professing his love for the music. County hired him, and Poss gave up teaching to follow his main passion, music, at a record label he admired. Within the first few years Poss was immersed in the record business, learning everything from reissuing old 78s to producing traditional musicians to selling records at retail stores.Three years later, in 1978, Barry Poss launched Sugar Hill Records (named after a song Poss heard in Western North Carolina). Poss wanted a strong label identity with a “signature sound,” that stood for great artists and quality production, similar to what Sam Phillips had done with Sun Records. While traveling around rural areas in the South with his banjo, engrossing himself in traditional music, Poss became intrigued by the music of the children and grandchildren of the mountain musicians he visited.

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