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Okeh (pronounced 'okay') was founded by Otto K. E. Heinemann (1877–1965), a German-American manager for the U.S. branch of German-owned Odeon Records.
He incorporated the Otto Heinemann Phonograph Corporation in 1916, set up his own recording studio and gramophone record pressing plant in New York City, and introduced the company's line of records for public sale in September 1918.
Heinemann formed the name of the record label "Okeh", from his initials; early disc labels rendered the name as OkeH.
In 1919 Okeh switched to the lateral cut method of sound recording, more usual for disc records. That same year the name of the label's owning company was changed to the General Phonograph Corporation. The name on the labels was changed to OKeh.
The 8000 "Race" series is a highly prized series, partly because OKeh recorded so many blues and jazz artists who made only a very few records.
The same can said for OKeh's 45000 Country/Hillbilly series.
On November 1926, Okeh was sold to Columbia Records.
Okeh releases grew infrequent after 1932, although the label continued into 1935.
Columbia again revived it in 1940, introducing the script logo design still in use today on a demonstration record announcing the label's revival,after they lost the rights to the Vocalion name (by dropping the Brunswick label).
OKeh continued until 1946, when it was revived once again in 1951 and used sporadically. In 1953, Okeh's pop music acts were transferred to the newly formed Epic Records making Okeh an exclusive rhythm and blues label.
Okeh gradually slipped in sales, and was finally deactivated discreetly by CBS Records in 1970.
In 1994, Sony Music reactivated the Okeh label (under distribution by Epic Records) as a new-age blues label.
By 2000, the Okeh label was again retired.
In January 2013, Sony Music reactivated the Okeh label as Sony's primary jazz imprint under Sony Masterworks and the imprint will be part of Sony Masterworks in the U.S., Sony Classical's domestic branch, focusing on both new and established artists who embody "global expressions in jazz".