Dorian Reid b/w Reid’s Records

In 1945, Melvin Reid and Betty Reid Soskin opened a record store in their Berkeley garage. People came from all over Northern California to buy their records, and to visit the shop. The store did so well, it expanded, leaving the garage for its current location on Sacramento Street.

Reid’s Records was one of the first black owned record shops in California, and sold music that the state’s segregation laws made almost impossible to find at commercial alternatives. Over the years, the focus shifted to gospel music, and as alternative media overtook the popularity of records, they began to sell bibles, gospel robes, and other church supplies along with music. On October 12, 2019, after 74 years in business, Diara Reid, Melvin and Betty’s daughter, closed Reid’s Records. Since then, the shop has remained shuttered.

Dorian Reid b/w Reid's Records presents a partial recreation of the historic store as a sculptural stage for the art of Melvin and Betty’s other daughter, the Richmond based artist Dorian Reid. Born in 1957, Dorian Reid recalls beginning her art career in Santa Barbara, where she learned to weave: “I’ve never forgotten the stitches of Santa Barbara”. Since, she has explored music, ceramics, drawing, and print making in her studio practice, largely developed at NIAD Art Center in Richmond, California, which she has attended since 2003.
Music shall live to live. Music alone shall live! That’s how I feel. I feel like the only way I’m getting the music to live, to survive, is the memory of the music. For me, the only way I feel like the music will never die is if I keep it going.

I feel like with music, it all moves towards me, every time I remember the shop. It used to be a record shop. I used to get free records from the shop every time my dad played them. “Oh, you want this?” I used to hang around. He would bring all the records out and play them for me. I can pick them up by ear. Every time I hear music like “you are a shining star” or “you’ve been waiting forever,” what’s going on is the remembrance of the music.

My mom and my brother, Bobby, they all play music. I used to try and find out, where do I fit? I feel like even though that’s a part of me, I kind of am out because with the memory, it’s beyond my time. With the memory, I’m the one that’s feeling forgotten. I was trying to find myself. I didn’t know what talent I had. I never knew I was an artist a long time ago.

Now I’m trying to stick up for my right to say what I want to say. I want it to be known that through the music, through the shop, through the records, and everything, that’s the culture of me! Of my song! Of the memory that I used to sing! It’s my memory of the music.

I feel like now it’s time to stop not being heard. It’s my time to say what I want.

Dorian Reid