Oral History Spotlight: Harry Gillum

Elizabeth Dale

NAMM’s Oral History Program conducted its first Zoom interview this month to continue preserving the history of the music industry despite restrictions put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NAMM Music Historian, Dan Del Fiorentino, has been traveling the globe in the pursuit of documenting the rich history of the music products industry since 2000. Having captured interviews with industry veterans from 49 states and 79 different countries, only a global pandemic could slow down Del Fiorentino. With Del Fiorentino taking the longest respite from collecting stories in the last 20 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he and the NAMM Oral History team turned to Zoom to capture its first socially distant interview with Harry Gillum, founder of Showtime Music.

Harry Gillum

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Showtime Music started as a small kiosk in June of 1991 when Gillum harnessed his 20 years of experience with other companies to open his store. The Bridgeport, West Virginia outlet quickly grew into a 1,200 square foot store within two months and then went full line, including a lessons program. Only six months later, the store doubled in size, expanding to a 3,000 square foot location. As a Member of NAMM since 1991, Showtime Music has been continuously operating since its inception with the COVID-19 pandemic marking the only time in the store’s history to temporarily close its doors.

Gillum has been a NAMM Show alumnus since the 1975 NAMM Show at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. During his Oral History interview, he reflected on the impact that the Kimball Piano and Organ booth, specifically the incentive that if an order was placed for their premier package that year, Kimball would throw in a free Cadillac. Believe it or not, Gillum reports that by the end of the show, all the Cadillacs were gone.

The passion for his work is evident in the way Gillum reflects upon his successful career, not only in providing music to countless individuals but the success in creating a family within the walls of Showtime Music.

Of the Zoom interview, Del Fiorentino shared, “While not an ideal way to document our industry’s history, the zoom interviews have been a great tool to capture content we may not have an opportunity to collect after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. It is a suitable substitute, but I’m excited to get back to our normal format.”

 For more information about Showtime Music, please visit https://www.showtimemusic.com/.