Putting the brakes on confusion

By ISNI Board member Paul Jessop - 2015-04-13

James "Jimmie" Rodgers was a key figure in the emergence of American country music. He followed his father into the railway industry, or as he would have called it, the “railroad” industry. He learned to play guitar and sing – developing a distinctive “yodeling” style that is still associated with the name by which he was known: The Singing Brakeman. Since his death in 1933 he has also been known as The Father of Country Music.

A different James “Jimmie” Rodgers was born the year the Singing Brakeman died. He became a major US pop star in the late 1950s and the 1960s. His recording of Honeycomb spent several weeks at the top of the Billboard Top 100 chart.

Even though these singers could never have known each other, the accident of their birth names means they are often confused. The better music services ensure that search results are split in two but even they sometimes make mistakes. It is said that serendipity is important in music discovery but there are limits to how much error users will tolerate.

 But there is no need for confusion because these two recording artists have their own unique ISNIs. Searching the ISNI database at http://isni.org/search for “Jimmie Rodgers” returns two identities:

 ISNI 0000 0000 7360 544X is Jimmie Rodgers, The Singing Brakeman and

 ISNI 0000 0000 6389 9587 is Jimmie Rodgers, the pop singer.

 Then there’s Jimmy Rodgers, the blues singer and guitarist (ISNI 0000 0001 0844 9302) but that’s another story.

 

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