Founded in 1980 by Dr. David Evans and Dean Richard Ranta, High Water Records was a company unlike many in the Memphis area, or even in the United States. As one of the first record companies to be owned by a major university, High Water was quick to receive attention from many due to this new idea. By and large, though, the main goal of this company was to tie in several of the University of Memphis’s (or Memphis State University as it was called then) musical ideals. It tied in the ethnomusicological studies of Dr. David Evans with the commercial music approach of Memphis, and helped to provide countless students with vital experience in recording these names.
At the end of the day, though, High Water’s focus was simple: to provide an outlet for musicians that would have otherwise been left out of the Memphis and regional music scene. By providing this service, High Water attempted to give these artists a viable commercial market both in Memphis and their hometown communities as well as national and international exposure.
High Water Records would focus on two primary areas: Blues and Gospel. However it would record many differing styles throughout its tenure, though not to the extent of the former two. Click through the tabs above to explore the names and sounds of each genre.