It was a normal day at HR Records in Northwest DC’s Brightwood Park neighborhood—until owner Charvis Campbell’s phone started blowing up.
First, he got a call from someone he thought was from the Small Business Administration informing him that a senior member of the Vice President’s office might stop by. A few moments later, they called again to let him know that the senior member definitely was not Vice President Kamala Harris, due to her busy schedule.
But then, a few hours later, the Secret Service showed up to do a sweep. “At that point I knew something was going down,” Campbell says. In the end it was indeed the Vice President, and she came ready to dive into the store’s immense selection of jazz and soul vinyls.
“Put it like this — she knows her stuff,” says Campbell. “It felt good to realize it wasn’t just for her show and tell, you know? It was really a sincere ‘I need to pick up some records.’ So I loved that.”
Harris mingled with customers and ended up buying some classics, like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s Porgy and Bess studio album from 1959, and Charles Mingus’ 1972 avant-garde Let My Children Hear Music. She also took home one of her personal favorites, Roy Ayers’ timeless 1976 album Everybody Loves the Sunshine.
“I was overjoyed, obviously a little tongue-tied,” says Campbell. “I went to Howard so I’ve been a fan for years. And her being the first Black female Vice President…it was an honor in more ways than one.”