The official archive of Jimmy Gray's seminal independent label & collective, based in Richmond, VA between 1975 and 1993. Formed by DJ and record producer Jimmy Gray in Richmond, Virginia, and following in the footsteps of other influential black-owned independent labels like Strata-East and Tribe, the foundation of Black Fire coincided with saxophonist James “Plunky” Branch returning to Richmond from New York to form Oneness Of Juju. The band’s ‘African Rhythms’ album in 1975 was the perfect fusion of jazz, deep African polyrhythms and empowering lyrics. Bassist Muzi Branch, a trained artist, created the first of many Black Fire hand-illustrated sleeves for this release.
The album set the tone for a series of landmark releases on the label, including Oneness Of Juju’s ‘Space Jungle Luv’ (1976) and debuts from soulman Wayne Davis (1976), and early go-go pioneers Experience Unlimited (1977). Gray continued to use his influence and strong A&R instincts to bring in more key artists – great jazz players like Byard Lancaster and Hamiet Bluiett, Ghanaian master percussionist Okyerema Asante and talented collectives including Southern Energy Ensemble and music/drama troupe Theatre West. Due to personal and cashflow issues, many releases had to be canned and only surfaced subsequently on CD releases during the early ‘90s. Strut Records is working in collaboration with Plunky Branch to make the sounds of Black Fire available once more. Reissues and previously unreleased sessions are taken from the original master tapes.