Thomas Edison

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record things in one place listen to them in another

begins process by which the music industry becomes professional

Union Gospel Tabernacle

Church–> Rhymen Auditorium

Where the Grande Ole Opry was held

“American South”

In 1920’s what was thought of as the land of music

much of this music was created by african americans

society in south was secregated except for music

“black faced minstrels”

banjo, fiddlers


jazz-blues,ragtime=country music

Black Faced Minstrels

People who painted themselves black to perform copied music

performers were taught the instruments by blacks

integration point of the music jazz, blues, and ragtime= country music

Banjo and Fiddle–loud/ good volume

Stephan Foster

*First great American song writer who fits into country

*wrote 186 songs in less 20 years, died at 37

“Oh! Suzanna”- theme for California Gold Rush

(Alan Jackson’s song “where do i go from here” has part of “oh! Suzanna” in it)

“Old Folks at Home”-Slaves on Underground Railroad

“Oh! Suzanna”

Stephan Foster

California Gold Rush

“Old Folks at Home”

Stephan Foster

Underground Railroad

Judge George D. Hay

The Barn Dance Show

Brought live music on the air, came to nashville in 1925

The Barn Dance Show

created by Judge George D. Hay

20 regulars weekly on air

DeFord Bailey

African American Hermonica Player- played on the barn dance show- also started at wsm in 1926

great stars of Grande Ole Opry

– was fired -shoe shined

“Ice Waters Blues”- just one hermonica but sounds like many

after he died he was put into the hall of fame

Sam McGee

-Fiddler on Grande Ole Opry

Playing Medicine shows

“Chevrolet Car”- Banjo Guitar- 1928

Medicine Shows
Eck Robertson

Fiddler from Texas

“Sally Gooden”

Blue Grass Music standard

First recorded country music song

“Sally Gooden”

Eck Robertson

-this song introduces Blue Grass Music (standard)

-becomes a prerequisite for anyone who plays the fiddle

-today it is recognized as the first recorded country song

“The Prisoners Song”

first real commercial recording

-first million selling record for country music

-still considered a country classic

Vernon Dalhard

(Classically trained singer- sang songs that were building blocks for country)

Shape Singing Notes
Different symbol for each notes in the scale, made it easier to read
Fiddlers in 1920’s

-heavy drinkers

the devil himself was known as a fiddler

“the devil went down to georgia


The Carter Family

-The most influencial social group in Country Music History

-Woman was the lead (sarah)

-switched emphasis from hillbilly instruments to vocals

“Wildwood Flower”

Sarah Carter

Prime Vocalist

-lead in the group

-had a voice that was unaffected from Virginia- becomes prevalent in country music

-this influences people to sing in their natural voice

Mabel Carter

Mother- Guitar Player

“The Carter Scratch”

-standard for acoustic guitar players everywhere

June Carter

Daughter- married

johnny cash

AP Carter

(Sarah’s Husband)

-would go around small towns and ask for songs, he would pay for the songs and all of the sons would end up having his name in it. 

“Wildwood Flower”

-The guitar solo for Mother Mabel (fascinates Earl Travis and every other acoustic guitar player)

Jimmie Rodgers

“Father of Country Music”

Yodel (tuberculosis)

-*brings yodel into country music 

-influences artist like: john cougar mellencamp, bono, willie nelson, Bob Dylan-put together record of his songs

-“the Soldier’s Sweetheart” & Sleep Baby Sweet

-everyone tries to sound like him in the 30’s and 40’s

Patsy Montana

-“I want to be a Cowboys Sweetheart” YODELING

– Woman Lead Singer- who helped to further break down the barrier that it was ok to be a lead singer as a women- after this buisnessmen decided they could make money with female artist

-influenced REBA 

Woody Guthrie

“This Land is your Land”

-song “hard traveling” a sound very much like “old crow medicine show” -loved the Carter Family and the Carter scratch- played based on that- also plays the melody like Maybelle Carter

-Emerged as the voice of the people, he sang songs that made them take pride in their work “i’m out to sing the songs that make you take pride in your self and your work”

“this land is your land”

-Wrote this song because he wanted somthing that came from a different perspective

-Was the music advisor for the movie “Grapes of Wrath”

Bob Wills

“king of western swing”

-combines blues, jazz, swing, country, party music of the time, and loud shit

-grew up in West Texas- heard sounds of black field workers and frontier music in a band called “The Light Crust Dough Boys”

wills was kicked out of band b/c of drinking problem (milton brown kicked him out)

1938 “San Antonio Rose”- instrumental song which becomes the most popular hillbillly record in the country. sound was much more ‘uptown’ than previous ‘hillbilly records’

The Great Cowboy Singers

-Western Part of Country

-Roy Rodgers

-Gene Autry

-Text Ritter

-Hank Williams

-now at concerts-big ticket- video screen and everything is synced up–this was a big part of the appeal of western music beause it wasn’t like the normal concert- it was a party with a lot of people on the stage- different experience every night

Roy Rogers

“King of the Cowboys”

-Roy Rodgers Show- radio that moved to TV

-born in ohi0-fasinated with western music-motion picture notion of it

-founded a group called THE SONS OF PIONEERS 

wrote a whole lot of western hits “Tumbling tumbleweeds”- romanticizes the Old West- turns loneliness of cowboys into somehting romantic

group had many beautiful harmonies, a bit more sophisticated than the Carter Family

-He was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame twice

-once as a soloist and once for the “Sons of Pioneers”

Gene Autry

“The Singing (Yodeling) Cowboy”

-Only celebrity to have 5 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

-elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame 

-started out trying to be like jimmie Rodgers- wanted to yodel like him

– gets on an Oklahoma radio station and becomes their “yodeling cowboy”

-he goes to Manhattan- records his first record, breakthrough with ballad: “That silver haired daddy of mine”- sentimental song

-went to work in chicago in group kind of like the opry, workiing on his western image

-in the 30’s moves in to film–movie called “tumbling tumbleweed”

one song he co-wrote was “back in the saddle again”- writted with Ray Whitman 

Tex Ritter

-“Sam Hall”

Elected into Country Music Hall of Fame 

-3rd most important movie cowboy

-big booming voice- almost johnny cash like- cas was a big fan

-from texas- by mid 30’s he was starring in westerns

-in 40’s he signed with Capital Records in Hollywood

-Moved to Nashville in 1965 became a key influence in town-one of the founders of the Country Music Association

-father of john Ritter (“sam Hall”)

Hank Williams

“The Drifted Cowboy”

-He was from Alabama

-Never road a horse before

California in the 1920s

-Movie buisiness is thriving the cowboy style-western pictures were really big

-Esp during the depression, motion pictures were real big savors for musicians- western singers were being hired as actors–> instant music video

-Now you had a lot of people dressing up as cowboys and being in bands that had that style even if they have never rode a horse before (hank williams)

The Great Depression


-Made sales go down

-in 1927-100 million records were sold (of all types of music) and in 1932- 6 million records sold records sold

-You get paid for however many copies you sold today, but back then you got about 200 dollars no matter how much you sold- paid a flat fee

Roy Acuff

“King of Country Music”

*influential in turning Nashville into a country music recording center

He was offered lots of money but was smart and realized there was more to make–started own publishing company

-1942- $25,000 in publishing money

-Fred Rose & Acuff cofounded “Acuff-Rose Publishing”

-He would only pay writers if their music was played on prime time radio

-Became a huge deal in the 40’s and was not a publishing giant along with making 200,000 dollars from traveling on the road

-early in his career he sand very randy, risque songs but later he shifted to be more straight laced

-group “the smokey mountain boys” –“wabach Cannonball”- recorded in 1947

****In Hollywood Acuff would be influential in transforming Nashville into a music center

-in the 30s and 40s he was a major star in Opry- he toured with DeFord Bailey, when opry moved to tv acuff was also a star


-Allows anyone to become a writer’ you can sign up at their offices

-During the 40’s BMI would pay you wherever your music was played

Spade Cooley

-Based his music on uptown music, violins and fiddles

-Plyed every week at the Aanta Monica Pier

-killed his wife?

Bill Monroe
“father of Blue Grass”
Minnie Pearl

Sarah Ophelia Colley

-Trademark was the hat w/ pricetag 

-Centerville TN- Family affected by Depression

– Loved drama & music-didn’t sing well 

“Minnie”- did comedy with Ron Brassfield

Helped the Opry show grow and stay popular

On TV show “Hee Haw” from 1969-1991

After WWII

-TV: Grande Ole Opry

Texas: Texas Swing

Hollywood: Cowboys

Honky Tonk: Ernest Tub with the electric guitar

WSM Radio

-Judge Hay went on the air

late 1925- fiddle Uncle Jimmy Thompson played with Hay on radio–people started writing in and they started having life music regularly 

– radio was gauged only by number of letters and telegrams the radio station received- peoples interest

Radio Stations in 1930’s

-People would set up shop at a radio station and play there for ages, there was a radio director that chose which artists could come play there–lots of diversity in sound on the radio

“New San Antonio Rose”

-The lyric filled version of Will’s song “san antionio rose” 


Tommy Duncan sang it

Commercial Era in late 1920’s

-Country Music (does not yet have that name) is entering a new commercial era in the late 1920s

record companies are discovering that there is a market for this stuff

more and more people are recorded, where this is a commercial market for something, the music will thrive (at least commercially)

Bristol Sessions


record producers moved to ‘po’dunk to set up record studio b/c it was easier than getting the hicks up to NYC

prior to Bristol most country music was recorded in nyc

put a article advertising recording in bristol newspaper= discovery of the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers

Cowboy Jack

-Big part of country and rock & roll

-has a studio in his house, became a hangout place where a lot of music is made

-people outside of nashville don’t know about him

– he had video cameras all over his house, “cowboy jack’s home movie”

– he discovered charlie pride- good friend of johnny cash- present at birth of rock and roll

Ernest Tubb

“Walking the Floor Over You”

-***didn’t have a good voice- people liked to sing the song, not intimidated because they thought they could sound like him***

-He was responsible for music shifting towards a more modern sound

-he started off trying to sound like Jimmie Rodgers (yodeling)- but when he had a tonsillectomy- he “came out growling”

-this gave him his own distinctive style

-he decided country music was too soft and brought in electric guitar (new Instrument)- so he could be heard over dinner in a bar


Bob Dylan 

-big Wododie Guthrie fan- found him in the hospital and would visit him and play music 

“Song to Woodie”– soft guitar song sings “to all the people that traveled with you”- refers to woodie’s song “Hard Travelin”

dylan is not usually thought of as country but he was actually influenced heavily by it (esp by Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family)

“No Depression in Heaven”

The Carter Family

-popular during the great depression and was later on discovered by Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy of Uncle Tupelo, who sang it–a chat group was later called “no depression” formed, it later became a magazine- which was the best american music magazine for a while- it was more serious than the rolling stone


San Antonio Rose

1938  instrumental song which becomes the most popular hillbilly record in the country.

sound was much more ‘uptown’ than previous ‘hillbilly records’

Western Swing


-party music, for dancing, loud, a lot of musicians on stage (like most other country music innovation did not occur in nashville)

-style was from texas-where historically there is lots of country music innovations

-every major Texas city boasted a thriving musical scence, lots of improvisation, every night a show was different



-being a cowboy was not a glamorous profession but somehow movies and music added glamour to it, became an attractive, catchy image. 

-the notion of the ‘cowboy’ ended up being very important to country music

-the connection became catchy and interesting to people

country musics stars wore cowboy hats and boots- because that image was attractive to people


-movies teach us to identify integrity, independence, and self-reliance with coqboys

-cowboys that were thought of as laborers in the 1900s were then stars in the 1900s

dont confuse movie cowboy music with actual cowboy music

most music sung by real cowboys is done acapella


Elton Britt

“There’s a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere”

-sung from the point of view of a crippled kid in the mountains- pleads to be able to fight in the war- sold millions 

What made Nashville the Music Center? and when?

-multi-artist shows aired on the radio in many cities, so the Opry wasn’t super unique in that way

-it wasn’t clear that Nashville would be a music center until 1939 when Opry goes on National TV (NBC)

– people start to see Roy Acuff in their living rooms

-with the shift to TV, Opry begins to change

-before 1939 it was largely a showcase for faceless string bands, but then after tv starts, individuals begin to become famous and take the lead role of the opry

Ralph Peer

-new york-based vicor representative who came to bristol, va and recorde the now-famed bristol session

found carter family