Home / Support the Libraries / Endowments and Gift Funds / Kearney W. Barton Endowed Pacific Northwest Music Fund

Kearney W. Barton Endowed Pacific Northwest Music Fund


The purpose of this endowment is to provide support for the preservation, description, and dissemination of Kearney Barton’s collection of sound recordings held by the University Libraries, and may also provide support for the preservation, description, and dissemination of other Pacific Northwest music related sound recordings.

Kearney W. Barton (1931 – 2012) was an internationally renowned and celebrated Seattle-based recording engineer and producer. He is widely considered to the person responsible for engineering what came to be known as the “original Northwest sound,“ a raw and reverberating analog sonic signature that can be heard on records by numerous Pacific Northwest artists. As music historian Peter Blecha notes, Barton’s engineering work was key in the crafting of this "powerful aural esthetic…. While numerous musicians also contributed to the process, it was Barton who established what that "Sound" sounded like on classic records by pioneering area rock 'n' roll bands.”

Barton contributed much to the world of rock ‘n’ roll, but his talents shined in other contexts, too. In his 50-plus years of audio engineering and production work, Barton produced radio spots for many local businesses, from Nordstroms and Ivars, to Alaska Airlines and the Seattle SuperSonics. He also cut and edited soundtracks for future Olympiads, such as Brian Boitano. It is, however, his work with musicians that will be remembered most. Whether rock or opera, jazz or bluegrass, classical or cabaret, gospel or even the occasional accordion-infused Nordic novelty song, Barton was there.

Blecha notes, "Barton's half-century of activity … saw him produce recordings for a wide range of clients including the Seattle and Portland opera companies, jazz/pop icon Quincy Jones, Scandinavian humorist Stan Boreson, country/pop diva Bonnie Guitar, the SuperSonics and Sounders sports teams – and even the performance soundtracks for Washington's 1984 Summer Olympics Gold Medalist swimmers, Traci Ruiz and Candy Costie. Perhaps most significantly though, through instructional classes held at his Audio Recording studios over the decades, Barton trained and mentored an entire generation of students in the arts and sciences of audio engineering."

While his professional accomplishments will solidify his spot in the world of audio  recording and Pacific NW music, many of those who knew Barton well will also remember him for his generosity, kindness, homemade cookies, and relentless cavalcade of jokes. He was also an avid Husky (entered the School of Drama in 1949) who held season football tickets up until the year before his death in 2012.