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The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 12: Music

BILL C. MALONE Volume Editor
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 448
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  • Book Info
    The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture
    Book Description:

    Southern music has flourished as a meeting ground for the traditions of West African and European peoples in the region, leading to the evolution of various traditional folk genres, bluegrass, country, jazz, gospel, rock, blues, and southern hip-hop. This much-anticipated volume inThe New Encyclopedia of Southern Culturecelebrates an essential element of southern life and makes available for the first time a stand-alone reference to the music and music makers of the American South.With nearly double the number of entries devoted to music in the originalEncyclopedia, this volume includes 30 thematic essays, covering topics such as ragtime, zydeco, folk music festivals, minstrelsy, rockabilly, white and black gospel traditions, and southern rock. And it features 174 topical and biographical entries, focusing on artists and musical outlets. From Mahalia Jackson to R.E.M., from Doc Watson to OutKast, this volume considers a diverse array of topics, drawing on the best historical and contemporary scholarship on southern music. It is a book for all southerners and for all serious music lovers, wherever they live.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1667-4
    Subjects: Music, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)

    In 1989 years of planning and hard work came to fruition when the University of North Carolina Press joined the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi to publish theEncyclopedia of Southern Culture. While all those involved in writing, reviewing, editing, and producing the volume believed it would be received as a vital contribution to our understanding of the American South, no one could have anticipated fully the widespread acclaim it would receive from reviewers and other commentators. But theEncyclopediawas indeed celebrated, not only by scholars but also by popular audiences with...

    (pp. xix-xx)

    Any accounting of the cultural contributions of the American South must rank music near the top of the list. The region had a lively folk music from early on and then in the 20th century produced some of the nation’s most acclaimed musical talent. Indeed, much of the most popular American music came out of the South, whether New Orleans jazz, Nashville’s country music, the Delta’s blues, or Memphis’s rock and roll. The two dominant demographic groups, whites from Western Europe and blacks from West Africa, contributed core features to the South’s musical culture, but the contributions of other ethnic...

  5. MUSIC
    (pp. 1-18)

    For more than a century and a half, the South has fired the imagination of musicians and songwriters. As a land of romance and enchantment and as the home of exotic people—both black and white—the South has inspired a seemingly unending body of songs that speak longingly of old Virginia or the hills of Caroline, while also singing the praises of the region’s towns, counties, hills, rivers, bayous, plains, and people. As a source of songs and musical images, the South has inspired a veritable industry of songwriters, from Stephen Foster, Will Hays, and Dan Emmett in the...

  6. Black Music
    (pp. 19-23)

    Black musical life was never limited to a single style or musical tradition. In the 19th century American popular songs found their way into the repertoire of black folk musicians, European fiddle tunes appeared in medleys performed by itinerant fiddlers, and shape-note singing was adopted by black congregations in imitation of the colonial traditions developed in the North but transplanted to the South in the 1830s. Black musicians were aware of various ethnic musical traditions; and the process of musical acculturation, forced on blacks because of their need to accommodate themselves to a sometimes hostile culture or accepted by them...

  7. Bluegrass
    (pp. 24-31)

    Bluegrass took shape as a distinctive style of acoustic southern string band music between 1939 and 1945, dates that are intimately associated with the career of a specific bandleader and his ensemble—Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys. With the possible exception of funk music’s association with James Brown, no other American music genre’s origins are so singularly traced to one father figure as bluegrass’s are to western Kentuckian Bill Monroe. But the classic ensemble sound of bluegrass came into being following crucial contributions from other members of his group. Similarly, while the appellation “bluegrass” suggests origins in western...

  8. Blues
    (pp. 31-38)

    In the 1890s several new musical forms arose in the black communities of the southern and border states. Among the most important of these forms were ragtime, jazz, and blues. The generation that created this new music had been born in the years immediately following the Civil War, the first generation of blacks that did not directly experience slavery. As this generation reached maturity in the 1890s, there arose within it a restlessness to try out new ideas and new courses of action. New economic, social, and political institutions were created to provide a network of mutual support within the...

  9. Cajun Music
    (pp. 39-42)

    Cajun music blends elements of American Indian, Scotch-Irish, Spanish, German, Anglo-American, and Afro-Caribbean music with a rich stock of western French folk traditions. The music traces back to the Acadians, the French colonists who began settling at Port Royal, Acadia, in 1604. The Acadians were eventually deported from their homeland in 1755 by local British authorities after years of political and religious tension. In 1765, after 10 years of wandering, many Acadians began to arrive in Louisiana, determined to re-create their society. Within a generation, these exiles had so firmly reestablished themselves as a people that they became the dominant...

  10. Classical Music and Opera
    (pp. 43-48)

    By the 18th century, it had become a mark of social distinction for members of the seaboard gentry to demonstrate an appreciation of good music and to perhaps play an instrument. Thomas Jefferson enjoyed the violin and collected a fine music library, consisting of pieces by Corelli, Bach, Handel, and Haydn, and William Byrd’s library at Westover included examples of English and Italian opera. Williamsburg emerged as the music center of Virginia, after Peter Pelham began giving recitals there in 1752. Amateur concerts were also held weekly in the drawing room of the Governor’s Palace.

    Musical life in Charleston became...

  11. Country Music
    (pp. 48-56)

    Although country music is a powerful cultural presence in the United States and an international export of growing magnitude, it is difficult to define. It is a creation and organic reflection of southern working-class culture, changing as that society has changed, but it is, at the same time, a dynamic element of American popular culture. In the 80 years or so since Texas fiddler Eck Robertson made the first documented phonograph recording by a white rural entertainer, the music has become a massive industry with an appeal that cuts across social, generational, and geographic lines.

    Country music had its origins...

  12. Dance, Black
    (pp. 56-60)

    An enduring expressiveness, even during the oppression of slavery, marks the history of black dance in America, and through dance many aspects of the African heritage of black Americans thrive. As Lynne Fauley Emery, in her seminal workBlack Dance in the United States from 1619 to 1970(1972), explains, “A fundamental element of African aesthetic expression was the dance.” When slave traders plundered Africa, dance assumed new meaning. Aboard slave ships, the traders frequently forced their captives to dance, either for entertainment for the crew or for exercise (healthy slaves brought higher prices). Even under such conditions the slave...

  13. Dance, Development of
    (pp. 60-64)

    Ethnic dance traditions and the latest dances dictated by changing fashions in European high culture were not common in the dispersed settlements of the South. Into the mid-20th century, the South’s reluctance to adopt popular dance trends and the security afforded it by folk traditions dictated regional dance expressions. No historical studies, however, offer a broad perspective on the development of dance in this region. Folklore studies of dance remain geographically specific and do not deal with issues of time.

    Three European nations provided the greatest influences on the development of dance in the Anglo-American South. From the West Indies,...

  14. Festivals, Folk Music
    (pp. 64-67)

    Music festivals have been part of southern cultural experience at least since the fiddlers’ contests of the mid-18th century. Prior to 1900, however, most communally shared music was sung and played informally at family reunions, corn shuckings, and barn raisings, on court and election days, at house dances, revivals, and all-day singings at churches, rent parties, school commencements, county fairs, and on a variety of other occasions that brought families, neigh and the dulcimer festivals at Birmingham, Ala., and Mountain View, Ark., celebrate a romanticized feature of Appalachian music and culture. Music festivals remain, however, one of the most vital...

  15. Gospel Music, Black
    (pp. 67-69)

    Despite its immense popularity, widespread appeal, and influence on American popular music, African American gospel music is a comparably recent music phenomenon. Rooted in the religious songs of the late 19th-century urban revival, in shape-note songs, spirituals, blues, and ragtime, gospel emerged early in the 20th century.

    The term “gospel music” suggests many things to different people. In its most general application, the word simply refers to any religious music, regardless of the music’s age or origin. Congregational songs, ring shouts, quartets, sacred harp choirs, Sanctified groups, and even some work songs would all qualify. Less broadly, the term refers...

  16. Gospel Music, White
    (pp. 69-74)

    For most people, the term “white gospel music” connotes a type of music characterized not so much by style as by content. Although the sound of white southern gospel can range from that of a sedate vocal quartet to an amplified country band, or from a singing convention assembly of 300 voices to the simple brother-duet harmony framed by mandolin and guitar, the message of the music is usually a direct and often optimistic reflection of a working-class Protestant ethos. Since white gospel music emerged as a recognized form in the 1870s and 1880s, it has tended to graft this...

  17. Hip-Hop and Rap
    (pp. 74-80)

    Beginning in the late 1980s, southern hip-hop and rap effectively trumped contemporary R&B as the foremost popular urban music trend. A regional response to the then-burgeoning East and West Coast hip-hop scenes, purveyors of southern rap simultaneously surfaced in cities ranging from Atlanta and Miami to New Orleans, Memphis, and Houston. Although many older music fans downplay the significance and artistic credibility of the genre, southern rap—created by an MC, or rapper, and a DJ, or producer—has emerged as a primary motivator in the youth market, influencing fashion, language, the mass media, and other facets of commercial and...

  18. Honky-Tonk Music
    (pp. 80-83)

    Honky-tonk, also called “hard country” or “beer-drinking music,” projects the mood and ambience of its birthplace, the beer joint. Born in the 1930s, honky-tonk became virtuallythesound of mainstream country music from the late 1940s to about 1955, when rock and roll forced changes in all forms of American popular music. Since then it has endured as a vigorous subgenre of country music, with such important musicians as Ray Price, George Jones, Moe Bandy, and Dale Watson making crucial contributions.

    Although conditions that contributed to its development prevailed throughout the South and on the West Coast, honky-tonk music experienced...

  19. Jazz
    (pp. 83-89)

    “Jazz started in New Orleans,” Ferdinand La Menthe “Jelly Roll” Morton pronounced confidently to Alan Lomax in 1938. Morton’s magisterial oral autobiography-history resounds with invaluable insights into the story of jazz, New Orleans in the 1890s, and southern life and culture. But, like many great insights, this is a mythic truth.

    Jazz was an agglomeration of black and white folk music, a rich synthesis that occurred in southern, southwestern, midwestern, and eastern urban centers in the last decade of the 19th century. Jazz began in New Orleans as well—but ragtime and blues musicians wandered the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi...

  20. Minstrelsy
    (pp. 89-91)

    It is something of a historical paradox that the popular desire for an autonomous cultural tradition in the South—one separating it from the perceived imperfections of the industrial North and of European civilization—should induce the region’s white citizenry to turn to the enslaved African Americans for their music, dance, and humor. Blackface minstrelsy is the clearest antebellum example of this contradictory cultural pattern. In the 1820s individual white thespians began doing imitations of African American song and dance in urban theaters. Their performances presented caricatures of black slaves, portraying them as superstitious, happy-go-lucky “dancing darkies.” The actors blackened...

  21. Música Tejana
    (pp. 92-98)

    Música tejana, or “Tex-Mex music” as it is sometimes called, is the music of the Texas-Mexicans, or Tejanos. Inhabiting the same geographic area of south Texas, the Tejanos have successively been citizens of a Spanish colony, an independent Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate states, and the United States of America. The development ofmúsica tejanais interwoven with the history of the Tejanos from the 1700s to the present.

    In a cultural sense, from the 1700s until the early 1900s the Tejanos were basically a Mexican provincial people, living in an isolated frontier area of the southern United...

  22. Music Industry
    (pp. 98-101)

    The development of commercial popular music in the South has paralleled trends in other industries. The region has served as a source of musical raw materials—styles, performers, and creative talents—for the nation as a whole. Until World War II, however, nonsoutherners controlled most of the institutions vital to marketing popular music, including publishing houses, recording companies, and theater chains. Professional musicians in the South pursued the American goal of material advancement, but profits tended to flow toward New York, Chicago, and Hollywood, the three major music centers of the United States before World War II. Of course, there...

  23. Protest Music
    (pp. 101-106)

    Despite the South’s reputation as a conservative region, protest activities and protest music have flourished at various times in its history. Indeed, southerners played vital roles in the shaping of the protest genre in the 20th century.

    Protest has never been absent from American music. America’s revolution against the British was waged in song as well as on the battlefield, and antebellum reformers fought slavery and alcohol in scores of militant songs. In the years surrounding World War I, the famous Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) made music an integral part of their struggle with capitalism, and theirLittle...

  24. R&B
    (pp. 106-111)

    R&B (rhythm and blues) is a term that is understood in a number of different ways. In the broadest sense, it covers most low- to middle-brow African American popular music from the World War II era to the present. In the narrow sense, it refers to the buoyant music of the 1940s and 1950s that echoed the upbeat mood of blacks migrating from the rural South to the promise held out by the city, a promise of alleviation of racial inequities and of economic opportunity spurred by the war after a decade spent in the throes of the Depression. As...

  25. Radio
    (pp. 111-113)

    Radio was a key institution in the popularization of many forms of music in the American South. Broadcasting stations beamed traditional forms of southern music to listeners throughout the region and the nation. Disc jockeys became important personalities associated with southern culture, and performers made use of radio to expand their commercial opportunities through selling records and promoting performance appearances.

    The earliest radio stations in the South appeared in the early 1920s, including two destined to be mainstays among the region’s broadcasters—WWL in New Orleans, licensed to Loyola University, and WSB, operated by theAtlanta Journal, both of which...

  26. Ragtime
    (pp. 113-117)

    In the generation following the Civil War, various elements of southern folk music, especially black-evolved styles from the Mississippi Valley, coalesced to form a piano music known by the 1890s as “ragtime.” Marked by an idiom- atic syncopation in the treble (right-hand) part against a steady, marchlike bass (left-hand) part, the piano rag developed as a highly formalized music in 2/4 time, built of three or more contrasting strains.

    In its origins ragtime drew from blackface minstrel sources, string band music, sentimental parlor music, brass band music, and many other sources. Called “jig-piano” or “ragged time” by early practitioners, it...

  27. Rockabilly
    (pp. 118-122)

    Memphis, December 1954. In a 30-by-18-foot recording studio, which had earlier served as a radiator shop, three musicians unfamiliar with such surroundings just a few months before were attempting to recapture lightning in a bottle. Specifically, they were hoping to replicate the surprising success that had greeted their first two commercial recordings. Along with a former radio-engineer-turned producer, the three, all of whom had recently quit their day jobs, were pinning their hopes on a 20-year-old blues song that had become a staple within western swing. At first, it seemed like their version of “Milkcow Blues” would differ little from...

  28. Rock and Roll
    (pp. 122-128)

    Emerging in the 1950s as a genre that blended various strains of southern music, rock and roll incorporated influences from such older musical genres as blues, rhythm and blues, boogie-woogie, jazz, gospel, folk, and country. Although rock (as the genre is presently known) is an internationally popular music genre today with a relatively limited presence in the South, most of the musicians, producers, and promoters responsible for the initial popularity of rock and roll were southerners. Entering the national consciousness through trend-setting mid-1950s hit recordings by such white southerners as Elvis Presley, the genre was first associated with black musicians....

  29. Sacred Harp
    (pp. 128-133)

    On most weekends somewhere in the Deep South (and in many areas outside the South since the last quarter of the 20th century), one can find a gathering of amateurs singing fromThe Sacred Harp, a tunebook first published in Georgia (but printed in Philadelphia) in 1844.The Sacred Harp, one of many tunebooks of the 19th-century South, is the most popular of several that have survived, the others being Joseph Funk’sGenuine Church Music(Harrisonburg, Va., 1832, now entitledNew Harmonia Sacra); William Walker’sSouthern Harmony(Spartanburg, S.C., printed in New Haven, Conn., 1835, with later editions printed in...

  30. Soul Music
    (pp. 133-138)

    A genre of commercial American music that emerged in the mid-1950s, soul music gained its widest popularity during the mid-1960s and was later subsumed by other music genres (funk, disco, pop, urban, contemporary R&B, rap, hip-hop) during the 1970s and 1980s. Even after ceasing to be a factor in the commercial music business, “classic” soul recordings continued to be heard and appreciated in the South, as well as across the nation and around the world. Recordings by the leading performers of soul have received consistent airplay on radio and have been prominently featured on best-selling film sound tracks (such as...

  31. Southern Rock
    (pp. 138-141)

    Southern rock is difficult to define. After all, rock and roll itself is a product of southern influences. Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many others melded different sorts of southern music together to make something brand new. Yet many people think of something more unified than the very different sounds turned out by 1950s rockers. Almost immediately one thinks of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when a new kind of sound was emanating from the most embattled region of the nation, the American South. But what was so distinctive about it?

    It has been said that...

  32. Spirituals
    (pp. 141-145)

    Spirituals are African American sacred folk songs, sometimes also called anthems, hymns, spiritual songs, jubilees, or gospel songs. Distinctions among these terms have not been precise, different terms being used in different communities at different times. The term “spiritual song” was widely used in English and American hymnals and tunebooks during and after the 18th century, but “spiritual” was not found in print before the Civil War. Descriptions of the songs that came to be known by that name appeared at least 20 years earlier, and African American religious singing that was recognized as distinct from white psalms and hymns...

  33. Square Dancing and Clogging
    (pp. 145-148)

    Square dance in the South has traditionally provided a means to exercise the virtually universal human tendency to move to the accompaniment of music. It is best to think of “square dance” as a generic term for a variety of related dance forms, styles, and occasions. In familiar stereotypes, traditional square dancing is often associated with the South, although it has not been an exclusively southern form; in its assorted revivalistic forms the square dance has become a national phenomenon.

    Cecil Sharp, the English collector and scholar of folk music and dance, helped bring the southern square dance to national...

  34. Western Swing
    (pp. 148-152)

    Like so many other forms of American music, western swing is a cultural product of the South. The founders of the music borrowed from other southern styles—ragtime, New Orleans jazz, folk, frontier fiddle music, pop, Tex-Mex, and country and classic blues. In one stage of development, they borrowed heavily from big-band swing. Despite its eclecticism, western swing has remained one of the most distinctive genres in southern musical history. Western swing brought a new vitality and sophistication to the country music of the South. All three periods in the development of western swing were inextricably interwoven with the career...

  35. Zydeco
    (pp. 152-158)

    Zydeco is a fast, syncopated dance music of Louisiana’s black Creole population. Played in urban and rural dance halls from St. Martinville and Lafayette to Houston’s black French Fifth Ward, it has evolved in Louisiana over the last 150 years, influenced by Cajun, African American, and Afro-Caribbean cultures. Some zydeco musicians may prefer a more Cajun sound; other musicians, especially in urban settings, mix blues and soul into the music, reflecting the increasing impact of African American mainstream culture. But nearly all zydeco groups maintain a rhythmic complexity in their music that harks back to their Afro-Caribbean inheritance, an inheritance...

  36. Accordion
    (pp. 159-159)

    The accordion is a key instrument in two forms of southern music—Cajun music from south Louisiana andmúsica norteñafrom the Texas borderland. It is a bellows-driven, handheld, free-reed instrument, played by compression and expansion of a bellows, which generates airflow across the reeds. A keyboard, with buttons, levers, or keys, controls which reeds receive air and what tones occur. The accordion appeared first in Germany in the early 19th century, and German immigrants to Louisiana and Texas likely introduced it into the American South.

    The accordion is the traditional lead instrument for much of Cajun music, producing an...

  37. Acuff, Roy (1903–1992) COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER.
    (pp. 159-161)

    Roy Acuff was the dominant country singer of the World War II years and the first living person to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, in 1962. Generally described as “the King of Country Music,” a title first given to him by baseball player Dizzy Dean, Roy Claxton Acuff was born in Maynardville, Tenn., on 15 September 1903. Acuff was a star athlete at Central High School in Knoxville (winning 12 athletic letters), but after suffering heatstroke in 1929 during a Florida fishing trip, he abandoned a promising baseball career and began perfecting his skills as a...

  38. Ailey, Alvin (1931–1989) DANCER AND CHOREOGRAPHER.
    (pp. 161-162)

    Alvin Ailey was born on 5 July 1931, in Rogers, Tex., in the southeastern county of Bell. He was a central figure in the creation of modern dance, with an estimated 15 million people in 48 states and 45 countries having viewed the works of his Alvin Ailey American Dance Company. Ailey’s work drew on what he called “blood memories, blood memories about Texas, the blues, spirituals, gospel, work songs, all those things going on in Texas in the 1930s during the depression.”

    Ailey’s childhood reflected the complexities of African American experience in the mid-20th-century American South. Economic deprivation, incidents...

  39. All-Day Singings
    (pp. 162-163)

    All-day singing has long been one of the most cherished social institutions of the rural South. The term has been applied to a wide range of musical affairs and even has its counterpart in the all-night singings of modern gospel quartet music, but it is most closely associated with the shape-note singing convention.

    Singing conventions are events that feature the performance of shape-note music, of both the four-shape and seven-shape varieties. The four-shape conventions have always been the most conservative in that they adhere to the use of one songbook, usually the venerableSacred Harp, first published by Benjamin F....

  40. Allison, Mose (b. 1927) JAZZ AND BLUES MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 163-164)

    Mississippi musician Mose Allison has enjoyed a prolific and critically acclaimed musical career, eschewing easy definitions or labels. He has charted his own course, blending a unique sound reflecting his Delta roots and introspective nature. Accumulating a legion of followers and influencing a range of artists, from the groundbreaking punk band the Clash to such venerated acts as the Rolling Stones and Hot Tuna, Allison’s music continues to evolve in scope but retains the blues aesthetic that evokes the unique region of Mose’s childhood.

    Mose Allison was born on 11 November 1927, in the small Mississippi Delta town of Tippo....

  41. Allman Brothers Band SOUTHERN ROCK BAND.
    (pp. 164-166)

    In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Allman Brothers Band created a new kind of southern music, one that embraced and acknowledged influences from both the white and the black sides of the South. The band itself, though all men, was integrated and embodied a new kind of vision for southern society that was rooted in brotherhood across racial lines. The members represented a more peaceful alternative to the image of the violent, racist southern white men who opposed the civil rights movement in the 1960s. The Allman Brothers Band even played a few benefit concerts in the mid-1970s...

  42. Armstrong, Louis (1900–1971) JAZZ MUSICIAN AND ENTERTAINER.
    (pp. 166-168)

    Born 4 July 1900 in New Orleans, Daniel Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong achieved acclaim as a jazz emissary to the world. Duke Ellington once called him “the epitome of jazz.” As a child, Armstrong played music on the streets of New Orleans and received musical training in the public schools and at the Coloured Waif’s Home (1913–14). He heard and was influenced by such early jazz performers as Charles “Buddy” Bolden, William “Bunk” Johnson, and Joseph “King” Oliver, who became his mentor. Armstrong performed briefly in a New Orleans nightclub at age 15 but did not become a full-time profes-...

  43. Arrested Development HIP-HOP GROUP.
    (pp. 168-169)

    From the very beginning, the Atlantabased hip-hop group Arrested Development sounded off like a veritable pastiche of southern music. Though the brainchild of a Milwaukee transplant—Speech, the group’s artistic and spiritual leader—Arrested Development’s music drew heavily from the distinctly southern traditions of blues, gospel, oldworld African rhythms, and call-and-response song structures, while focusing on themes of southern rural life and respect for black women and traditional family values. Dressed in African garb and pouring libations to ancestors before every show, Arrested Development made a name for itself as one of the few hip-hop groups that could hold its...

  44. Austin City Limits
    (pp. 169-170)

    Austin City Limitsis a PBS program that has been a key presenter of American musical talent in concert performances since the mid-1970s. Program director Bill Arhos, at KLRN (later KLRU-TV) in Austin, Tex., developed the program to showcase southwestern musical talent, and he attracted national attention through the support of the PBS network. The pilot for the show featured Willie Nelson, who had recently moved from Nashville to Austin, and the first broadcast show, in 1976, was a reunion of Bob Wills’s Original Texas Playboys.

    The early years ofAustin City Limitshighlighted “progressive country,” a popular musical genre...

  45. Autry, Gene (1907–1998) COUNTRY AND WESTERN SINGER.
    (pp. 170-171)

    Though he became known throughout the world as a symbol of the West, Gene Autry’s music remained firmly rooted in the southern soil from which it came. Orvon Gene Autry was born on a ranch near Tioga, Tex., on 29 September 1907, and moved to a ranch near Achille, Okla., as a youth. He was interested in a career in entertainment from an early age and even joined a medicine show in his teens; but it was as a guitar-strumming blue yodeler—under the influence of the enormously popular Jimmie Rodgers—that Autry achieved his first success as an entertainer...

  46. Bailey, DeFord (1899–1982) COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER.
    (pp. 171-172)

    Country Music Hall of Fame member DeFord Bailey was born near Bellwood, Tenn., on 14 December 1899 and is quoted as saying, “My folks didn’t give me no rattler, they gave me a harp.” By all accounts true, this exposure to the harmonica while in infancy was augmented by his contracting polio at age three. Unable to move for a year, he cultivated his ability to listen: to dogs, to birds, and, most importantly, to trains. (His signature song would become “Pan American Blues.”) Following the early death of his mother, Bailey was raised by his aunt Barbara Lou, whose...

  47. Baker, Etta (1913–2006) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 172-173)

    Born 31 March 1913 and raised in a family of farming musicians in the foothills of North Carolina, legendary Piedmont blues guitar and banjo picker Etta Baker played music since age three. Picking up both guitar and banjo from her father, Baker first recorded in 1956, when she was featured on the highly influential Tradition Records compilationInstrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians. Of the songs on that album, Baker’s version of “One Dime Blues” was considered by many to be a definitive performance—so much so that those who could imitate it were said to be “one diming it.”...

  48. Balfa, Dewey (1927–1992) CAJUN FOLK MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 173-174)

    Dewey Balfa was one of the nation’s most widely respected folk musicians and Cajun cultural activists. His calm, homespun eloquence and sincerity made him a spokesman for traditional cultures in general, but most of his battles to save his Cajun French culture were fought with a fiddle in south Louisiana, his home.

    Balfa’s musical heritage was a family affair. “My father, grandfather, great-grandfather, they all played the fiddle, and, you see, through my music, I feel they are all still alive.” Balfa’s father, Charles, was a sharecropper on Bayou Grand Louis in rural Evangeline Parish near Mamou. He instilled a...

  49. Banjo
    (pp. 174-175)

    The five-string banjo is a distinctive feature of the indigenous rural music of the South; it is generally not indigenous to rural music elsewhere. But while the banjo has been commonly associated with rural white southern culture, urban and black influences have significantly shaped its history.

    The banjo originated in black culture, proto-banjos having been brought by slaves from Africa. Until recently, legend honored Joel Sweeney as the inventor of the five-string banjo. This Virginian, around 1830, allegedly improved the slave instrument by adding a short, high-pitched fifth (or thumb) string to its original four. However, reliable illustrations show that...

  50. Beach Music
    (pp. 175-177)

    A treasure of popular culture in the Carolinas, beach music is not historically indigenous to Carolinas’ beaches, where it now finds its greatest popularity, and does not traditionally celebrate beach culture. The origins of beach music lie in both the blues of the mid-20th-century South and the harmonious rhythm and blues of urban black street-corner singing groups like the Clovers, who enjoyed national success in the 1950s. Visitors to the Carolinas often find familiar oldies sanctified as classic “beach music.”

    The development of beach music as a cultural phenomenon began in the post–World War II era, as whites became...

  51. Beale Street
    (pp. 177-178)

    Beale Street, one of the most celebrated streets in the South, was the black main street of Memphis and of the surrounding rural region, comparable in its heyday to Auburn Avenue in Atlanta and Maxwell Street in Chicago. Beginning at the Mississippi riverfront and extending eastward a mile and a half, the street was lined with commercial buildings, churches, theaters, parks, elegant mansions, everyday dwellings, and apartment houses. The diversity of its built environment showed that Beale Street was a mosaic of southern cultures. For more than a century, indigenous white and black southerners, Italian Americans, Greek Americans, Chinese Americans,...

  52. Bechet, Sidney (1897–1959) JAZZ MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER.
    (pp. 178-179)

    Like Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Joseph Bechet, who was born 14 May 1897 in New Orleans, was a black Creole, a member of the group that played a pivotal part in the genesis of jazz. He grew up in the rich musical environment of New Orleans, taught himself clarinet, and later studied intermittently with George Bacquet, “Big Eye” Louis Nelson, and Lorenzo Tio Jr. By about 1910, he was performing with established New Orleans bands such as Bunk Johnson’s. In 1914, he began to tour, settling in Chicago in 1917.

    He performed in Europe from 1919 to 1921. He was...

  53. Blackwood Brothers GOSPEL MUSIC SINGERS.
    (pp. 179-181)

    Perhaps the most popular group in southern gospel music history, the Blackwood Brothers parlayed their rural Mississippi sharecropping background into a million-dollar entertainment empire. For many fans in both the South and the Midwest the Blackwoods defined the singing quartet style that is the backbone of classic southern gospel music and engineered many of the musical and promotional innovations that permitted gospel singers to professionalize their music. They were among the first to issue their own phonograph records, to break from the songbook publishers that had dominated gospel music for the first four decades of the century, to begin their...

  54. Bland, Bobby “Blue” (b. 1930) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 181-182)

    Born Robert Calvin Bland on 27 January 1930 in Rosemark, Tenn., Bobby “Blue” Bland has had a looming influence on R&B, blues, and southern soul that is still being felt more than 60 years after he began singing in local Memphis groups in the late 1940s.

    Bland’s family moved to Memphis from rural Rosemark in 1947 in search of better financial opportunities. Not long after arriving there, Bland started singing spirituals with a local group that was modeled after the Pilgrim Travelers, a popular gospel group of the day. Shortly after starting to hang around on Beale Street, though, Bland...

  55. Blues-Singing Women
    (pp. 182-185)

    In his classic collection of essays,The Souls of Black Folk(1903), W. E. B. Du Bois expressed the meaning of “sorrow songs” to black people: “They that walked in darkness sang songs in the olden days—sorrow songs—for they were weary at heart. They came out of the South unknown to me, and yet I knew them as of me and mine.” In the sorrow songs, Du Bois heard “the voices of the past,” preserved from generation to generation through oral tradition.

    The origins of the blues are in the sorrow songs of the slaves. Both musical forms...

  56. Bolden, Buddy (1877–1931) JAZZ MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 185-186)

    The story of Charles “Buddy” Bolden is part of the earliest history of New Orleans jazz. Bolden was an accomplished cornetist and one of the first musicians to mix ragtime and blues into a sound that would later be called “jazz.” He was born in New Orleans on 6 September 1877. His father, a drayman, died of pneumonia when Bolden was six years old. His mother worked to support the family, and Bolden and his sister did not have to work as children. No other members of the Bolden family were interested in music; Bolden learned from religious music and...

  57. Brooks, Garth (b. 1962) COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER.
    (pp. 186-188)

    Although he does not equal their stature as a songwriter, Garth Brooks probably won more adherents to country music than Hank Williams and Willie Nelson combined. During the early 1990s he was the best-selling recording and concert artist in American popular music. So astounding was his artistic and financial impact that he was featured on the cover ofTimeandForbesmagazines. In country music, he became the highest-achieving member of the fabled “Class of ’89,” a group of artists who charted their first songs that year and which included Clint Black, Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, and Mary Chapin Carpenter....

  58. Brown, James (1933–2006) SOUL MUSIC SINGER.
    (pp. 188-190)

    “Soul Brother No. 1,” “The Godfather of Soul,” and “Mr. Dynamite” are all names given to the only black rhythm-and-blues artist of the 1950s to successfully bridge the gap to soul artist in the 1960s and funk artist in the 1970s. Maintaining his popularity through 30 years, James Brown single-handedly anticipated and shaped 1970s funk and, to a slightly lesser degree, disco music. The repercussions of his aesthetic conceptualizations are heard everywhere on black radio. His influence can be detected in European new wave music, West African Afro-beat, and West Indian reggae.

    Brown was born on 3 May 1933 near...

  59. Brumley, Albert (1905–1977) GOSPEL MUSIC SONGWRITER.
    (pp. 190-191)

    Albert Brumley was one of the premier composers of gospel songs and was intimately associated with the rise and expansion of the southern gospel quartet business. Many songs from his repertoire still command the allegiance of musicians in both the gospel and country fields (and particularly in bluegrass music, where his songs are frequently played).

    Brumley was born near Spiro, Le- Flore County, Okla., on 29 October 1905, into a tenant farm family that provided inspiration for many of his most popular songs. He began writing songs shortly after attending his first singing school in 1922 at the Rock Island...

  60. Buffett, Jimmy (b. 1946) SINGER, WRITER, AND BUSINESSMAN.
    (pp. 191-193)

    James William “Jimmy” Buffett was born on 25 December 1946, in Pascagoula, Miss., and grew up in Mobile, Ala. His South is the Gulf Coast, and he has used its musical rhythms, especially the Coast’s ties to the Caribbean Islands, to establish a unique cultural identity, which he has marketed to legions of fans. Buffett expresses American musical interest in the Caribbean, and he is particularly significant in introducing the islands’ sounds into country music. The son of a naval architect, James Delaney Buffett Jr., and Mary Loraine “Peets” Buffett, young Jimmy Buffett often went sailing with his father and...

  61. Burnett, Chester Arthur (Howlin’ Wolf ) (1910–1976) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 193-195)

    Howlin’ Wolf, alongside Muddy Waters, remains the most legendary of the postwar Chicago bluesmen. Among blues musicians, only Robert Johnson, Waters, and B. B. King have wielded a comparable influence on subsequent popular music in the Western Hemisphere, whether in blues or in rock. Among urban blues giants, Wolf was the one who provided the link to the first generation of acoustic rural Delta bluesmen to record, having played with Charley Patton, Son House, Willie Brown, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Robert Johnson. Among electric urban blues musicians, Wolf was also the one whose music stayed closest to its rustic...

  62. Burnside, R. L. (1926–2005) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 196-197)

    In the early 1990s, R. L. Burnside became an unlikely star of the blues world, largely the result of a unique marketing strategy employed by his label, Fat Possum Records, based in Oxford, Miss. He was born on 23 November 1926 in Harmontown, Miss., north of Oxford, and from ages 7 to 17 lived in Coldwater with his mother and maternal grandparents. His given name appears to have been R. L. His friends often called him “Rule” or “Rural.” He began playing guitar as a young man after receiving an instrument from his brother-in-law. His major influence was the Como-based...

  63. Byrd, Henry (Professor Longhair) (1918–1980) RHYTHM-AND-BLUES MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 197-199)

    Professor Longhair was a pioneer of the post–World War II New Orleans rhythm-and-blues idiom. Although he made the transition to rock and roll with only modest commercial results, his artistic influence on popular music in the Crescent City was immense. Pianist-composer Allen Toussaint dubbed him “the Bach of Rock.”

    Born in Bogalusa, La., a rural sawmill town, Henry Roeland Byrd moved to New Orleans as a child. He grew up near Rampart Street, then a musical strip connecting black central-city wards to the downtown neighborhoods. His early exposure to music came in church, which he attended with his mother,...

    (pp. 199-200)

    The Carter Family was one of country music’s most influential groups and a valuable link to the music’s folk origins. The family was composed of Alvin Pleasant (A. P.) Carter, who was born in Scott County, Va., in 1891; his wife, Sara Dougherty Carter, who was born in Wise County, Va., in 1898; and A. P.’ s sister-in-law, Maybelle Addington Carter, who was born at Nickelsville, Va., in 1909. After their marriage, on 18 June 1915, A. P. and Sara began singing for friends and relatives who gathered at their home at Maces Spring in the Clinch Mountains of Virginia....

  65. Cash, Johnny (1932–2003) COUNTRY, FOLK, AND GOSPEL MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 200-202)

    J. R. Cash was born in the small town of Kingsland in the hill country of southern Arkansas. Born to Southern Baptist sharecropping parents, Ray and Carrie Rivers Cash, Johnny spent his youth farming alongside his father and siblings. By the time he was three, the Great Depression had destroyed what little prosperity there was in farming in southern Arkansas, and life for the family there was a struggle. But in 1935 Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal administration developed the Dyess Colony Scheme, a project created to give land in northeastern Arkansas bordering the Mississippi River to suffering farm families....

  66. Charles, Ray (1930–2004) RHYTHM-AND-BLUES MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 202-203)

    Ray Charles’s recording career spanned almost 40 years, yet his fame and influence lie with a series of recordings made for Atlantic and ABC-Paramount from 1955 to 1962. These recordings exhibited unprecedented versatility—Charles recorded jazz, blues, gospel, show tunes, and, finally, country and western music. His significance rests primarily on his fusing of gospel with pop and blues styles and, secondarily, his liberation of country and western as a white-only music.

    Born 23 September 1930 in Albany, Ga., as Ray Charles Robinson, he and his family moved to Greenville, Fla., where, at the age of six, he developed glaucoma...

  67. Chenier, Clifton (1925–1988) ZYDECO MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 203-204)

    Born 25 June 1925 near Opelousas in Saint Landry Parish, La., Clifton Chenier became the nation’s premier zydeco performer. His father, Joseph, played the accordion, and he took his sons Clifton and Cleveland to local parties where he performed. The two boys themselves started playing at a young age—Clifton the accordion his father gave him, and Cleveland his mother’s rub board. In the early 1940s they performed with Clarence Garlow’s group in clubs around Lake Charles, La., and in 1947 Clifton left home and joined his brother in Lake Charles. The two worked at the oil refineries in Port...

  68. Cline, Patsy (1932–1963) COUNTRY SINGER.
    (pp. 204-205)

    Patsy Cline, born Virginia Patterson Hensley on 8 September 1932, was one of the first country-and-western entertainers to become successful on both the country and popular music charts. Her first big success was winning theArthur Godfrey Talent Scoutscontest in January 1957 with her hit song, “Walkin’ after Midnight.” Over the next six years, Cline became the highest-ranked female singer with theGrand Ole Opryand achieved such popular success that Bill C. Malone has called her “the first woman to dethrone Kitty Wells from her position as ‘queen of country music.’”

    Virginia Hensley grew up in Winchester, Va.,...

  69. Coltrane, John (1926–1967) JAZZ MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 205-207)

    Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane is one of the most significant and controversial figures in the history of jazz. Although his formal career spanned only 12 years (1955–1967), he recorded prolifically in his lifetime, leaving much material for posthumous release. The trajectory of Coltrane’s career moved from his earlier, more conventional (although still intensely creative) approach to jazz, to his later, highly experimental style. Critics debate the supremacy of these two phases, with each mode finding staunch adherents. Born in Hamlet, N.C., in 1926, Coltrane was the son of John R. Coltrane, a tailor and amateur musician, and Alice (Blair)...

  70. Cooke, Sam (1931–1964) SOUL SINGER.
    (pp. 207-209)

    Sam Cooke is widely credited with having played a major role in the invention and popularization of soul music. After an early-1950s stint as lead vocalist for the Soul Stirrers, an acclaimed African American gospel singing group, Cooke, during the late 1950s and early 1960s, became not only one of the best-selling black performers in secular popular music but also a successful and widely respected songwriter, music publisher, and record company owner. Samuel (nicknamed “Sam”) Cook (the “e” was added to his last name at the beginning of his solo music career) was born on 22 January 1931, in Clarksdale,...

  71. Daniels, Charlie (b. 1936) COUNTRY-ROCK SINGER.
    (pp. 209-211)

    Charlie Daniels, a native of Wilmington, N.C., became one of the leading exponents of southern rock music in the 1970s. In 1967, after more than a decade as an obscure veteran of the southern club circuit, Daniels began working as a studio-session musician in Nashville. His most notable session work occurred in the period from 1969 to 1971, when he backed rock star Bob Dylan on a series of albums.

    In 1971 Daniels formed his own band, and a year later he experienced substantial record sales with a satirical single release, “Uneasy Rider.” The song and the album on which...

  72. Dawson, William Levi (1899–1990) COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR.
    (pp. 211-212)

    Born 26 September 1899 in Anniston, Ala., William Levi Dawson became interested in music at an early age, particularly the rhythms and music of his African American heritage. He ran away from home at the age of 13 to attend the Tuskegee Institute, where Booker T. Washington was headmaster. At Tuskegee, Dawson learned to appreciate hard work, joining the band and the choir, in addition to his academic lessons and shifts in the fields surrounding the school.

    After graduating from Tuskegee in 1921, Dawson taught band at Kansas Vocational College for a year, before becoming the choir director at Lincoln...

  73. Diddley, Bo (1928–2008) BLUES AND R& B SINGER.
    (pp. 212-214)

    Combining R& B and blues with an eccentric onstage performance, Bo Diddley is often considered one of the pioneers of rock-and-roll music. Diddley was named Otha Ellas Bates at birth on 30 December 1928, in McComb, Miss. He never knew his father, Eugene Bates. His mother, Ethel Wilson, was only 15 or 16 years old when Ellas was born. Ethel’s first cousin Gussie McDaniel raised Ellas while the family tried to make a living as sharecroppers. In 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression, the family moved to Chicago, where Ellas started to develop an interest in music. His...

  74. “Dixie”
    (pp. 214-215)

    The word “Dixie” has been a part of the American vocabulary ever since it appeared in the song “Dixie’s Land.” The song, though closely associated with the history of the South, is not of southern origin. Both tune and text were written by Ohio native Daniel D. Emmett in 1859, shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War. The song immediately gained popularity, first in the North, then as a “battle hymn” in the secessionist Confederate states. The word “Dixie” even became a synonym for the South.

    What was compelling about the tune was its blend of incisiveness and exhilaration,...

  75. Dixie Chicks COUNTRY MUSIC GROUP.
    (pp. 215-216)

    The Dixie Chicks will likely be remembered more for an intemperate but prophetic remark one of their members made than for the quality of their music. The core and cofounders of the Chicks are sisters Martha “Martie” Erwin Maguire (born 12 October 1969 in York, Penn.) and Emily Erwin Robison (born 16 August 1972 in Pittsfield, Mass.). The final and newest member of the trio is lead vocalist Natalie Maines Pasdar (born 14 October 1974 in Lubbock, Tex.).

    Formed in 1989 in Dallas, the Chicks initially included two members besides the Erwin sisters: bass player Laura Lynch and guitarist Robin...

  76. Dixie Hummingbirds GOSPEL MUSIC GROUP.
    (pp. 216-217)

    The Dixie Hummingbirds, a gospel “quartet,” most of whose members were from South Carolina, began their long recording career in the late 1930s with the selection “When the Gates Swing Open” (Decca 7645). Ira Tucker, their famous lead singer, joined the group in 1940, soon followed by Willie Bobo, their well-known bass singer. The Birds, as they came to be known, consisted by 1945 of James Walker, Ira Tucker, William Bobo, Beachey Thompson, and James Davis, the original leader. Guitarist Howard Carroll joined the quartet in the early 1950s. (Male groups were usually referred to as “quartets,” even though most...

  77. Dr. John (b. 1941) NEW ORLEANS MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 217-218)

    Malcolm “Mac” John Rebennack Jr., the pianist, composer, singer, and producer now widely known as Dr. John, is one of the best-known New Orleans–based artists and has had a career that spans four decades and a wide range of musical styles. He cut his teeth during one of the most exciting periods in New Orleans’s rhythm-and-blues scene at the side of legends like Huey “Piano” Smith, Allen Toussaint, and Earl King. During an era when segregation still ruled in the South, he was one of the only white session musicians and arrangers to contribute in any significant way to...

  78. Domino, Fats (b. 1928) ROCK AND R& B MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 218-220)

    Antoine “Fats” Domino is to his home city, New Orleans, what Elvis Presley and B. B. King are to Memphis and what Roy Acuff is to Nashville—the personification of musical values closely associated with those cities. His popular recordings for Lew Chubb’s Imperial label—many of which were produced with Dave Bartholomew and engineered by Cosimo Matassa—represent a distillation of the New Orleans sound: piano virtuosity featuring right-hand triplets and a dominant bass line; heavy secondline rhythms from Domino’s left hand or from the shuffle of a drummer; and harsh but powerful horn riffs, often featuring tenor saxophone...

  79. Donaldson, Lou (b. 1926) JAZZ MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 220-221)

    The recording career of bop alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson evinces both the singular influence of jazz legend Charlie Parker and the consistent development of Donaldson’s own unique blues-based style. A key member of the hard-bop movement of the mid-1950s, he helped establish the popularity of saxophone and organ combos during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

    Born and raised in Badin, N.C., Donaldson opted to learn the clarinet around age 15 instead of studying under his mother, a piano teacher. He attended college at North Carolina A&T College in Greensboro, where he played in the marching band until enlisting in...

  80. Dorsey, Thomas (1899–1993) BLUES AND GOSPEL MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER.
    (pp. 221-223)

    Thomas A. Dorsey, the acknowledged father of modern African American gospel music, remains its most influential figure. Dorsey was born in Villa Rica, Ga., on 1 July 1899, and was raised in the Atlanta area. During his youth he absorbed a variety of influences, from the traditional Dr. Watts hymns to the emerging early blues and jazz. A versatile composer who began writing both blues and gospel songs in the 1920s, Dorsey initially authored blues tunes but eventually penned many of the best-known songs in the gospel canon, including “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” and “Peace in the Valley.” In...

  81. Dulcimer
    (pp. 223-224)

    The plucked dulcimer, often called the Appalachian dulcimer, is a southern mountain folk instrument. Its sound is soft and restrained, with a gentle charm and a slight touch of melancholy. Its diatonic scale and heavy drones make it sound like a gentler version of bagpipes. The most common shapes are the “teardrop” and the “figure-eight,” but other shapes are sometimes made. Dulcimers usually have three or four strings (although they may have as many as eight) running over a fret board. The diatonic scale of the fret board makes the dulcimer an ideal instrument to accompany songs in the various...

  82. Engel, Lehman (1910–1982) COMPOSER AND CONDUCTOR.
    (pp. 224-226)

    Timemagazine called Lehman Engel “one of the nation’s busiest and most versatile men-about-music.” He was a composer, conductor, author, and teacher.A Streetcar Named Desire,The Consul,Murder in the Cathedral, andLi’l Abnerare a few of the many, diverse Broadway shows with which he was associated as a composer or pit conductor. His efforts brought widespread recognition, including two Antoinette Perry (“Tony”) awards: one in 1950 for conducting the Menotti operaThe Consuland one in 1953 for conducting Gilbert and Sullivan operettas andWonderful Town.

    Born to Jewish parents in Jackson, Miss., Engel played the piano...

  83. Estefan, Gloria (b. 1957) LATIN POPULAR SINGER.
    (pp. 226-226)

    Born in Havana, Cuba, on 1 September 1957, as Gloria Maria Fajardo, Gloria Estefan is one of the best-selling popular singers in the world and a leading exemplar of the Latin music that took root in south Florida and now ties the American South to the broader Global South. Estefan’s music is rooted in her native Cuba. Her father was a bodyguard to Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. He was imprisoned and expelled from Cuba when Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista regime in 1959, and he fought at the Bay of Pigs invasion. Miami became home to his family, as it...

  84. Fiddle and Fiddlers’ Conventions
    (pp. 227-228)

    The fiddle is a four-string, bowed instrument—most often a violin, though resourceful musicians have fashioned facsimiles from cigar boxes and tin cans—upon which are played a variety of folk melodies, primarily for dancing. Some people argue that the fiddle has one string more than the violin—the one used to hang it on the wall. Because of its portability, its common use as dance accompaniment, and its folk heritage extending back to the 18th century in the British Isles and Western Europe, the fiddle quickly assumed a role as the primary folk musical instrument of settlers in the...

  85. Fisk Jubilee Singers SPIRITUAL SINGING GROUP.
    (pp. 228-229)

    The Fisk Jubilee Singers originally consisted of a black American group of eight singers and a pianist, all students at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. This double quartet, together with musical director George L. White, chaperone Miss Well, the pianist, and two other students to help with the packing and moving, set off on a tour in 1871 to raise money for their university. By 1880, when the university ended official sponsorship of the group, it had toured the northern United States, England, and Europe and had sung at the White House and for Queen Victoria. From the singing of...

  86. Foster, Stephen (1826–1864) COMPOSER AND SONGWRITER.
    (pp. 229-230)

    Born in Lawrenceville, Penn., and raised in comfortable circumstances in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Stephen Collins Foster began composing for the blackface minstrel theater, where “Oh! Susanna,” “Nelly Bly,” and “Camptown Races” were popularized by the troupe of E.P. Christy. His ambition, however, was to be a composer of sentimental parlor songs on themes of romantic love and nostalgic yearning. Among his songs of this type are “Old Dog Tray,” “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” and “Beautiful Dreamer.” Although some of his songs achieved commercial success, Foster failed to capitalize on his successes and died in poverty.

    In his...

  87. Fountain, Pete (b. 1930) JAZZ MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 230-231)

    Peter Dewey Fountain Jr. was born on 3 July 1930 in New Orleans, La. His father was a drummer and violinist who played in local jazz bands in Biloxi, Miss., when Pete was young. Fountain’s own musical interest began early, and he played the clarinet in the school band. While still very young, Fountain played with the Junior Dixieland Band, Phil Zito’s International Dixieland Express, and the Basin Street Six.

    Already an accomplished musician at 16, Fountain replaced Irving Fazola at the Opera House Burlesque Theater. At 19, Fountain joined the Dukes of Dixieland band in Chicago in 1949 and...

  88. Franklin, Aretha (b. 1942) GOSPEL, SOUL, JAZZ, R&B, AND POP SINGER.
    (pp. 231-232)

    “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin was born the daughter of a Baptist preacher in Memphis, Tenn., on 25 March 1942. After her mother’s death, when Aretha was only 10, her minister father moved Aretha and her four siblings to Buffalo, N.Y. Soon after, the family moved again to Detroit, where Aretha’s father became the preacher at New Bethel Baptist Church, a position that led to Aretha becoming acquainted with and influenced by gospel singers Clara Ward and Mahalia Jackson. “I guess I was about nine when I decided to sing,” Aretha said. “The best, the greatest gospel singers passed though...

  89. Gillespie, Dizzy (1917–1993) JAZZ MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 232-233)

    John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was born on 21 October 1917 in Cheraw, S.C. Gillespie showed his musical talent at an early age, and he began to play the trumpet when he was 15. He attended Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina, and when he was 18 Gillespie went to Philadelphia, where he joined a local jazz band. He played with the Cab Calloway and Earl Hines bands, and in 1944, when Hines’s lead singer, Billy Eckstine, formed his own band, Gillespie joined the group.

    Gillespie, along with his friend Charlie “Bird” Parker, who also played with the Eckstine band, was an...

  90. Golden Gate Quartet GOSPEL MUSIC GROUP.
    (pp. 233-234)

    The Golden Gate Quartet came out of the musical culture of southern Virginia’s Tidewater and went on to become one of the most prominent and influential black gospel quartets. The quartet began in a barbershop in Berkeley, Va., in 1930, when Booker T. Washington’s schoolmates Willie Johnson and Henry Owens joined with barber A. C. “Eddie” Griffin and one-legged bass singer Robert “Peg” Ford. They performed around Norfolk, Va., and then at churches in North Carolina, and by June 1936 they were singing over radio station WIS in Columbia, S.C. By then, Griffin had returned to his barbershop, replaced by...

  91. Gottschalk, Louis Moreau (1829–1869) CLASSICAL MUSIC COMPOSER.
    (pp. 234-235)

    The most renowned American composer of the early 19th century, Louis Moreau Gottschalk blended the European romantic tradition with the black rhythms and Creole melodies he had experienced as a child in New Orleans.

    Gottschalk’s works possess an individual charm and a spontaneity and verve that draw listeners inside the music. The son of a wealthy English Jew and a titled French Creole, the musician grew up in cultured surroundings and was recognized by age four as a prodigy. Seven years later, his teacher declared that the boy must be sent to Paris to study further. In 1842, Gottschalk sailed...

  92. Grand Ole Opry
    (pp. 235-238)

    TheGrand Ole Opryis America’s longest-running radio program. It began in 1925, soon after Nashville station wsm first began broadcasts as the voice of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company. This Nashville-based firm was then expanding rapidly, moving beyond its initial base of sickness and accident policies into the more profitable life insurance field. Along with classical ensembles and pop dance bands, country musicians like Dr. Humphrey Bate’s Augmented Orchestra supplied early WSM programming and helped attract prospective policyholders.

    The father of theOprywas wsm program director George D. Hay, who came to the station in November...

  93. Green, Al (b. 1946) SOUL AND GOSPEL SINGER.
    (pp. 238-240)

    Part preacher, part soul singer, and full-time performer, the Rev. Al Green is an anomaly of artists. Lauded for his silky voice and sexy tunes, Green is celebrated as one of the foremost soul singers in R&B. His uncanny ability to wed powerful falsetto with guttural moans creates a signature style often thought of as a bridge between the sound of Memphis’s Stax Studio and that of Detroit’s Motown Records.

    Born Albert Greene on 13 April 1946 in Forrest City, Ark., this celebrated soul star was kicked out of the family gospel quartet when his father found him covertly listening...

  94. Guthrie, Woody (1912–1967) FOLK SINGER.
    (pp. 240-242)

    Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was born on 14 July 1912, in the small frontier town of Okemah, Okla. Born to politically liberal parents (as evidenced by his given name), Charles and Nora, Guthrie grew up relatively poor. His father played in cowboy bands and owned and ran a trading post. His father’s business failed when Guthrie was still young, and shortly thereafter tragedy revisited the family two more times. Woody’s sister died in a fire, and his mother died from Huntington’s disease. When his father decided to return to his native Texas—a place Guthrie had visited often growing up and...

  95. Handy, W. C. (1873–1958) BLUES COMPOSER AND PERFORMER.
    (pp. 242-243)

    In 1909, W. C. Handy’s band was engaged by E. H. Crump’s forces to deliver the black vote to their man. In his campaign for mayor of Memphis, Crump promised to clean up the city, particularly Beale Street. Though hired by Crump to promote his campaign, Handy wrote a piece called “The Memphis Blues,” which mocked this idea:

    Mister Crump won’t ’low no easy riders here.

    Mister Crump won’t ’low no easy riders here.

    I don’t care what Mister Crump don’t ’low.

    I’m gwine bar’l-house anyhow—Mister Crump can go an’ catch hisself some air!

    This was the first time...

  96. Harris, Emmylou (b. 1947) MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 243-244)

    Emmylou Harris has been an important voice of southern music for over 30 years, winning countless awards, including 12 Grammy awards, and selling over 15 million records worldwide. Primarily a country musician, Harris has been successful in a wide variety of other music genres, including folk, country rock, bluegrass, rock, pop, and alt-country. She has performed and recorded with such talents as Gram Parsons, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Johnny Cash.

    Harris was born in 1947 in Birmingham, Ala., but spent her childhood in North Carolina and Virginia. Following high school, she...

    (pp. 244-246)

    Described by Stax Records founder Jim Stewart as one of the main roots of the Memphis Sound, Isaac Hayes cowrote some 200 compositions for Stax artists, including Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin’” and Carla Thomas’s “Let Me Be Good to You.” With the exception of Booker T. & the MG’s, Isaac Hayes worked on more Stax sessions and tracks than any other musician.

    Born into rural poverty, as the son of a sharecropper, on 20 August 1942, in Covington, Tenn., Isaac Hayes was singing in church by the age of five. During adolescence, he quit singing because his...

  98. Hays, Will (1837–1907) SONGWRITER.
    (pp. 246-247)

    Will Hays was one of America’s most popular songwriters in the 19th century. Many of his songs still endure today. William Shakespeare Hays was born in Louisville, Ky., in 1837. Although most of the details of his early life remain undocumented, he is known to have been the captain of theGrey Eagle, a Mississippi River steamboat, and was an authority on the lore and life of the country’s great interior river system. He was the river editor of theLouisville Democratat the age of 19 and was later a columnist for many years on theLouisville Courier-Journaland...

  99. Hee Haw
    (pp. 247-249)

    The impact ofHee Hawon southern culture is undeniable. First broadcast on 15 June 1969 on CBS, the Nashville-based hillbilly variety show ultimately became one of the most popular syndicated television programs of all time. Appropriately named for the braying of a donkey, the show is best recognized for down-home, cornball humor set in fictitious Cornfield County. Based on Rowan and Martin’s successful comedy variety show,Laugh-In,Hee Hawcombined humorous skits, fast one-liners, rusticated vaudeville, and both country and gospel music to create one of the longest-running and most Emmy award–winning syndicated series in television history. During...

  100. Hill, Faith (b. 1967) COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER.
    (pp. 249-250)

    Faith Hill’s career blossomed during the 1990s, which some observers regard as the golden age of modern country music. This was the period of Garth Brooks’s ascendance, when the Nashville Network showcased country music around the clock to America’s growing cable audience and when it was commonplace for country artists to sell a million or more copies of each new album. With her striking physical beauty and strong expressive voice, Hill was a natural for stardom.

    Born 21 September 1967 in Jackson, Miss., the future singer and actress was adopted within a week of her birth and named Audrey Faith...

    (pp. 250-252)

    West Texas–born Buddy Holly was perhaps the most multifaceted and creative individual among the first wave of white rock-and-roll stars in the 1950s. A singer, guitarist, songwriter, and innovative force in the studio, the young Holly also was the most influential early rockand-roll singer to work with his own self-contained band, a format that soon became standard in the idiom. Like the Everly Brothers, Holly brought a sweet pop and country harmony duo sensibility to rockabilly, somewhat restoring the balance between white and African American influences in rock and roll, which in its early stages had been decidedly closer...

  102. Hooker, John Lee (1917–2001) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 252-253)

    “The King of the Boogie” began life near the city that spawned so many seminal blues musicians, Clarksdale, Miss. Born one of 11 children into a sharecropping family, he followed a familiar pattern of early exposure to both sacred and secular music, experimentation with homemade instruments, and migration first to Memphis and then farther north. Arriving in Detroit in 1943, he recorded his first impressions in a song that would be among his most famous, “Boogie Chillen’.” “I was walking down Hastings Street / I saw a little place called Henry’s Swing Club / Decided I’d stop in there that...

  103. Hopkins, Lightnin’ (1912–1982) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 253-254)

    Born 15 March 1912 in Centerville, Leon County, Tex., Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins learned to play a homemade cigar-box instrument when he was eight, picked up a little about playing the guitar later from his brother Joel, sang in the church choir as a youth, and absorbed musical materials from fellow farmworkers and in nearby bars. He was a hobo and traveled throughout Texas in the 1920s doing farmwork and playing for small pay in clubs and bars and at dances and parties. He moved to Houston in the 1930s but was unable to find steady work as a musician and...

  104. Howell, Peg Leg (1888–1966) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 254-254)

    Joshua Barnes Howell was born in Eatonton, Ga., on 5 March 1888. He was one of the leaders of the East Coast Piedmont Blues. Howell worked on a farm, where he would have heard the field hollers and other plantation work songs of former slaves, and at the age of 21 he taught himself to play the guitar. Allegedly shot in the leg by his brother-in-law in 1916, Howell had the leg amputated and fitted with a prosthesis, and soon he became known as “Peg Leg.” No longer fit for farmwork, he relocated to Atlanta. There he played music for...

  105. Hurt, Mississippi John (1893–1966) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 254-255)

    Born in Teoc, Miss., Hurt was a self-taught guitarist who performed for many years in Avalon, Miss. He made his first recording in 1928. His most noted recorded selections, including “Candy Man,” “Avalon Blues,” “Spike Driver Blues,” and “Stagger Lee Blues,” were produced by the Okeh Recording Company. He seldom appeared in public performance between 1929 and the early 1960s, but he gained popularity in 1963 through his appearance at the Newport Folk Festival. In 1963 he recorded the albumMississippi John Hurt: Folk Songs and Bluesfor Piedmont Records. This album served as an incentive for the recording of...

  106. Jackson, Mahalia (1911–1972) GOSPEL SINGER.
    (pp. 255-256)

    Born in New Orleans on 26 October 1911, Mahalia Jackson grew up in the Baptist church, but she was heavily influenced by the music of Holiness congregations and such blues singers as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. She moved to Chicago in 1927, joined the choir of Greater Salem Baptist Church, and then in 1928 became a member of the Johnson Gospel Singers, composed of three Johnson brothers—Robert, Prince, and Wilbur—and Louise Lemon, who together were one of the first professional gospel singing groups. The group toured the Midwest, and their concerts featured religious plays written by the...

  107. Jefferson, Blind Lemon (1897–1929) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 256-257)

    Blind Lemon Jefferson was the South’s most renowned country blues oracle in the 1920s. He was born blind into a poor sharecropping family on a farm about 50 miles east of Dallas in 1897. Like other blind bluesmen, such as Blind Blake, Blind Willie McTell, and Gary Davis, he turned to music at an early age because it was the only way he could make a living. Early in his career Jefferson became a popular bluesman in the east Texas farming communities around his birthplace. Then he took to the road, and throughout the 1920s he made frequent trips outside...

  108. Jennings, Waylon (1937–2002) COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER.
    (pp. 257-258)

    Texas-born guitarist, singer, and songwriter Waylon Jennings enjoyed a prolific career that spanned over four decades. Building on an early career as a rock-and-roll performer in the late 1950s, he became a country superstar in the 1970s and introduced “outlaw country,” which represented a new approach to performance, composition, and imagery revolving around a rejection of Nashville pop-country slickness and the move toward a more personalized and reflective lyrical voice.

    Born in Littlefield, Tex., Jennings started playing guitar at age 8, and by age 12, he had become a radio dj. Shortly afterward he formed his first band. He left...

  109. Jiménez, Flaco (b. 1939) CONJUNTO MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 258-260)

    The Jiménez family has established a musical dynasty in the field ofmúsica norteña, a south Texas contribution to music in the South. It began with Patricio Jiménez, who worked in San Antonio’s Brackenridge stone quarry and learned the button accordion from local German-Texans in the early 1900s. His son, Santiago Jiménez, pioneered the Texasnorteñaaccordion style in San Antonio by performing on a onerow, one-key, button accordion on radio broadcasts and recordings beginning in the early 1930s. Since the 1950s Santiago’s son, Leonardo “Flaco” (Skinny) Jiménez, now the third generation of the musical family, has broughtmúsica norteña...

  110. Johnson, Bunk (1879–1949) JAZZ MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 260-261)

    One of the earliest black jazz cornetists, Willie Geary “Bunk” Johnson, who was born in New Orleans, began to study on that instrument at the age of eight and in 1894 joined his first band, the Adam Olivier Orchestra. From 1896 to 1898, he may have played second cornet with Buddy Bolden’s band, the first in New Orleans renowned for improvising in a “hot” syncopated style. From 1900 to 1910 he toured in minstrel and circus bands and in ocean-liner orchestras. Returning to New Orleans in the 1910s, Johnson became locally famous as lead cornetist with the Eagle Band, a...

  111. Johnson, Robert (1912–1938) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 261-262)

    Robert Johnson was the most celebrated and legendary of the blues artists who emerged from the Mississippi Delta prior to World War II. He was born near Hazelhurst, Miss., in 1912 and was raised at a sharecroppers’ settlement called Commerce. While still a youngster, he was drawn to the blues he heard around him, learning to play the music on a harmonica and then on a guitar. Still in his teens, he left home to become an itinerant bluesman, traveling throughout the Delta and then up the Mississippi River to Helena, Ark., Saint Louis, and finally Chicago. In the mid-1930s,...

  112. Johnson, Tommy (1896–1956) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 262-263)

    Tommy Johnson helped create the Delta blues, and thus the blues itself and its accompanying mythology. Born on George Miller’s Plantation in Terry, Miss., in 1896, Johnson was one of 13 children. His uncles and brothers all played guitar, while other family members played various instruments in a brass band. After his family relocated to Crystal Springs, Miss., around 1910, Johnson’s brother LeDell taught him the basics of the guitar, and by the time Johnson turned 18 he and his brothers were playing parties and gigs in Copiah County and beyond. In 1916, Johnson moved to Webb Jennings’s plantation near...

  113. Jones, George (b. 1931) COUNTRY SINGER.
    (pp. 263-265)

    George Glenn Jones was born on 12 September 1931, in a Saratoga, Tex., cabin situated within the oil-rich rural area of east Texas known as the Big Thicket. Moving with his family into government housing in Beaumont, Tex., Jones coped with his difficult childhood (partly caused by his father’s alcoholism) by embracing music, initially through listening to country music on the radio and singing gospel songs in church. By age nine, he was performing as a street singer in downtown Beaumont, singing for tips to his own guitar accompaniment. At age 16, in Jasper, Tex., Jones sang for the first...

  114. Joplin, Janis (1943–1970) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 265-266)

    Born on 19 January 1943, in Port Arthur, Tex., Janis Joplin began singing folk music around her hometown while still in high school. An outcast in her hometown, she moved to the more liberal environment of the University of Texas at Austin and sang in various cafés around the city. Joplin hitchhiked to California in 1963 with her friend Chet Helms, who later became the manager of the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. Helms convinced Joplin to return to California in 1966 to front a local rock band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, which was popular among the nascent...

  115. Joplin, Scott (1868–1917) RAGTIME COMPOSER.
    (pp. 266-267)

    At the peak of his fame (1900–1905), Scott Joplin was billed in vaudeville as the “King of Ragtime.” His fame rested on the publication in 1899 of “Maple Leaf Rag,” a brilliant piano solo in a new popular style called “ragtime.” Born in 1868 near Texarkana, Tex., Joplin was a skilled itinerant musician who studied piano and composition in Sedalia, Mo., at George R. Smith College (1896) to expand his musical horizons. Playing in saloons and bordellos from Texas to St. Louis, Joplin teamed with other black ragtime composers such as Otis Saunders and Louis Chauvin, helping them notate...

  116. Jordan, Louis (1908–1975) JAZZ AND BLUES MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 267-269)

    Louis “King of the Jukebox” Jordan was a music pioneer who inspired generations of American blues, jazz, and rhythm-and-blues musicians with his performances and songwriting abilities. Born in Brinkley, Ark., on 8 July 1908, Jordan was drawn to a career in music from a young age, singularly influenced by his father, James Jordan. James was a local music teacher and bandleader for the local Brinkley Brass Band and a member of the touring Rabbit Foot Minstrels, a famous black variety troupe that toured in the South in the first half of the 20th century and counted blueswomen Ma Rainey, Bessie...

  117. Kimbrough, David “Junior” (1930–1998) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 269-271)

    Rockabilly pioneer Charlie Feathers referred to his friend, fellow musician, and teacher, Junior Kimbrough, as “the beginning and end of music.” Feathers (1932–1998), a native of the Holly Springs, Miss., area, was famous for his idiosyncratic theories about music, but his assessment of Kimbrough highlighted the fact that the bluesman’s music was almost a genre unto itself.

    David Kimbrough Jr. was born in Hudsonville, Miss., just north of Holly Springs, on 28 July 1930. His father, three older brothers, and a sister were blues musicians. At age eight he learned guitar from his father, whom he cited as his...

  118. King, B. B. (b. 1925) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 271-273)

    Riley “B. B.” King was born on a plantation between Itta Bena and Indianola, Miss. One of five children, he often sang in local churches as a young child.

    When his parents separated, King moved with his mother to Kilmichael, Miss., where he sang in a school spiritual quartet from 1929 to 1934. After his mother’s death, he returned to Indianola and continued to develop his music while working as a farmhand.

    In 1946 King hitched a ride to Memphis and for 10 months lived with noted bluesman Bukka White, his mother’s cousin. He returned to the Delta briefly at...

  119. Ledbetter, Huddie (Leadbelly) (1885–1949) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 273-275)

    A singer and composer, Ledbetter was born on 21 January 1885, two miles from Mooringsport, La., in the Caddo Lake area near the Texas border, where his parents, Wess Ledbetter and Sallie (Pugh) Ledbetter, owned 65 acres of farmland. Wess Ledbetter’s parents had both been slain by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi. Huddie Ledbetter’s maternal grandmother was a Cherokee, a fact he often mentioned. Huddie Ledbetter was first exposed to music by his mother, who led her church choir. Two songster uncles, Bob and Terrell Ledbetter, encouraged him to become a musician. Huddie Ledbetter was soon known as the...

  120. Lewis, Furry (1893–1981) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 275-276)

    Walter “Furry” Lewis was born into a Greenwood, Miss., sharecropping family in 1893. His father left around the time he was born, but Furry, his mother, and his siblings remained in the Greenwood area until Furry was about six, when they all moved north to Memphis in the hope of a better life. Memphis would be the city that Furry would call home the rest of his life. This was the result, in part, of a train-hopping accident in his late teens that left Furry with one leg and a prosthetic.

    Lewis’s first guitar was homemade, and it was one...

  121. Lewis, Jerry Lee (b. 1935) ROCK AND COUNTRY SINGER.
    (pp. 276-277)

    Jerry Lee Lewis, of Ferriday, La., one of the most charismatic and controversial musicians of his generation, has long exemplified many of the most profound tensions in southern history. He was born on 29 September 1935 into an extremely talented yet volatile family—two of his cousins are television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart and country musician Mickey Gilley. He was profoundly influenced by Pentecostal religion as a child. But he was also attracted to secular sources, such as a black Ferriday juke joint called Haney’s Big House. Lewis has cited Al Jolson, Jimmie Rodgers, Gene Autry, and Hank Williams as vocal...

  122. Lomax, John A. (1867–1948) FOLK SONG COLLECTOR.
    (pp. 277-279)

    Born in Goodman, Miss., on 23 September 1867, John Avery Lomax was one of five sons of natives of Georgia. They always worked their own land, but Lomax described his family as belonging to the “upper crust of the po’ white trash.” In 1869 the family moved to a farm on the Bosque River near Meridian, Tex. From his country childhood Lomax acquired a love for and appreciation of the rural folklore he later captured on record. He absorbed the popular hymns he heard at the Methodist camp meetings his family attended. In 1895, at age 28, he entered the...

  123. Louisiana Hayride
    (pp. 279-280)

    TheLouisiana Hayridewas a north Louisiana musical institution from 1948 to 1960. It was one of several radio barn dances that helped popularize country music in the 20th century, broadcasting over 50,000-watt station KWKH from Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium to 28 states. The radio show was second only to Nashville’sGrand Ole Opryin broadcasting significance. The show also sponsored touring performers associated with the program.

    TheLouisiana Hayridegrew out of a distinctive north Louisiana musical culture. Shreveport had the easy mobility of a river town—it was located on the Red River—which brought musical performers of all...

  124. Lunsford, Bascom Lamar (1882–1973) MUSIC COLLECTOR, PERFORMER, AND PROMOTER.
    (pp. 280-281)

    Born on South Turkey Creek in Buncombe County, N.C., and trained as a lawyer, Lunsford worked in a variety of occupations (college teacher, lawyer, newspaperman, seller of fruit trees and war bonds) but achieved local and national renown as a collector, performer, promoter, and interpreter of the old-time music and dance of western North Carolina. During the late 1920s, when mountain music and culture were being stereotyped and exploited for commercial (mainly media and tourism) purposes, Lunsford—who called himself “the squire of South Turkey Creek”—championed their dignity and worth.

    In 1928 Lunsford began his Mountain Dance and Folk...

  125. Lynn, Loretta (b. 1937) ENTERTAINER.
    (pp. 281-283)

    Country music is an essential accompaniment to contemporary images of the South and is the source for a resonant regional mythology. Loretta Lynn is a rural southerner who celebrates the traditional values of the South through her original compositions and her authentic folk style. She created and portrayed the “coal miner’s daughter,” a popular myth of the working-class southern woman, which may become as pervasive as the myth of the antebellum southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara.

    Loretta Lynn was born in the small community of Butcher Holler, Ky., on 14 April 1937, the second of eight children of Clara Butcher and...

  126. Lynyrd Skynyrd SOUTHERN ROCK BAND.
    (pp. 283-285)

    Lynyrd Skynyrd is a southern rock band that reached the height of its popularity in the 1970s. The driving force behind Skynyrd was singer Ronnie Van Zant, who was born on 15 January 1948 in Jacksonville, Fla. He formed his first band in 1964, together with drummer Bob Burns, guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins, and bass player Larry Junstrom. During these early years, Van Zant’s group used different names, such as the Noble Five, My Backyard, and the One Percent. The band members eventually decided to name their band Lynyrd Skynyrd, a mocking tribute to Robert E. Lee High...

    (pp. 285-286)

    Not the first on-air performer, but certainly the first celebrity of WSM’sGrand Ole Opry, Uncle Dave Macon did not begin his historic career in entertainment until the gold-toothed banjo player was 50 years old. Born David Harrison Macon in Warren County, Tenn., Uncle Dave spent a good part of his teens living at the Broadway Hotel, a boardinghouse that his parents operated in downtown Nashville. Vaudeville and circus performers often stayed at the Broadway, and young Macon observed rehearsals that materialized in the basement of his parents’ establishment. After Macon’s mother gave him the money for his first banjo,...

  128. Malaco Records
    (pp. 286-288)

    The roots of Malaco Records, based in Jackson, Miss., stretch back to 1961, when cofounder Tommy Couch Sr. began booking R&B bands at the University of Mississippi while serving as social chairman of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha. After graduation, Couch moved to Jackson to work as a pharmacist and formed the booking agency Malaco Productions with his brother-in-law, Mitchell Malouf. The operation moved into recording in 1966, by which time Couch’s fraternity brother Gerald “Wolf” Stephenson had joined as a partner. In its first years, Malaco released few recordings, concentrating instead on leasing masters to other labels. One of...

  129. Mandolin
    (pp. 288-289)

    The mandolin is widely used in bluegrass music. It has a wooden hollow body, with a carved top and a flat back. The instrument, which in effect is a miniature lute, came to the United States from Italy and was used in the 19th century in Italian American folk music and by concert performers. In the late 19th century it became a Victorian era parlor instrument, along with such novelty instruments as the zither, the mandola, and the ukuleles, all designed to amuse a new middle class. The mandolin that was associated with bluegrass was designed in this era by...

  130. Marsalis, Wynton (b. 1961) JAZZ MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 289-290)

    Wynton Marsalis is one of the most prominent contemporary jazz performers and the leader of a neoclassical postbop return to jazz roots, an approach that has highlighted New Orleans’s—and the South’s—role as of central importance in music history.

    Marsalis is from a musical family. His father, Ellis, is a well-known New Orleans figure, and his three brothers, including saxophonist Branford Marsalis, are all accomplished musicians. Born on 18 October 1961, Wynton Marsalis studied jazz and classical music as a boy and marched at age eight in Danny Barker’s children’s band, performing at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage...

  131. Mercer, Johnny (1909–1976) SONGWRITER.
    (pp. 290-291)

    John Herndon Mercer was born in Savannah, Ga., on 18 November 1909, to George A. Mercer and Lillian Ciucevich Mercer. His mother’s family came to the United States from Croatia in the 19th century; the Mercers had lived in Savannah since the colonial era. After completing his education at Woodberry Forest School in Virginia, Mercer moved to New York and obtained roles in traveling variety shows. He began writing music and lyrics for these performances, including theGarrick Gaieties of 1930, which resulted in his first published lyric, “Out of Breath (and Scared to Death of You).” While working for...

    (pp. 291-292)

    The Meters are a soul and funk group from New Orleans consisting of keyboardist Art Neville, guitarist Leo Nocentelli, bassist George Porter Jr., and drummer Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste, who were joined by percussionist Cyril Neville in 1974. With a string of albums for Josie and Reprise, the group brought a mixture of funky instrumental grooves and the irrepressible spirit of a New Orleans street party to national audiences for a decade, beginning in the late 1960s. It represents one of the core groups that came to define funk in the 1970s, a fact that is underscored by its status as...

  133. Mexican Border Stations
    (pp. 292-293)

    Popularly known as X-stations because of their call letters, the Mexican border radio stations in the 1930s and afterward were powerful disseminators of music and other forms of popular culture throughout North America. Their programming techniques and advertising practices became part of the nation’s folklore, and they did much to make the world at large conscious of southern rural folkways.

    With transmitters located on the Mexican side of the border and operating with wattage generally far in excess of that permitted in the United States, X-station broadcasts could be heard clearly in this country and Canada. The era of border...

  134. Minnie, Memphis (1897–1973) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 293-294)

    Born Lizzie Douglas, in Algiers, La., in 1897, Memphis Minnie was one of the most influential and prolific female blues artists of the 20th century. Her talent as a guitar player, singer, and lyricist combined with her Louisiana roots and experience in Memphis to create a unique sound that was extremely popular in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1904 she moved to Walls, Miss., and within the next few years received a guitar that she quickly learned to play. Faced with a life of being either a domestic servant or a fieldworker, Douglas chose the alternative of playing and singing...

  135. Monk, Thelonious (1917–1982) JAZZ MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 294-296)

    Jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk invented a musical style both steeped in tradition and uniquely his own. Showcasing the influence of many moments of jazz tradition, from stride piano to avant-garde, Monk emerged as a creative, eccentric genius of American music and a performer impossible to imitate. His work reinvented jazz and changed the course of American music.

    Monk was born on 17 October 1917 in Rocky Mount, N. C., to Thelonious Monk Sr., a day laborer, and Barbara Batts Monk, a domestic worker. Frustrated with the limited opportunities available to her family in Jim Crow North Carolina, Barbara...

  136. Monroe, Bill (1911–1996) BLUEGRASS MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 296-297)

    William Smith “Bill” Monroe was born 13 September 1911 on a farm near the small town of Rosine, Ohio County, in western Kentucky. The youngest of eight children, Monroe had extremely poor sight. He was a shy lad, for whom his family’s musical traditions afforded comfort and identity. His mother died when he was 10 and his father when he was 16. He lived for several years with his Uncle Pen (Pendleton Vandiver), a fiddler who strongly influenced his music and who was later immortalized in song by Monroe. He also learned much from a black guitarist and fiddler, Arnold...

  137. Morganfield, McKinley (Muddy Waters) (1915–1983) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 297-298)

    Muddy Waters was born in Rolling Fork, Miss., and at an early age taught himself to perform on both the guitar and the harmonica. His skills as a young bluesman were widely advertised in north Mississippi and in the Memphis area. During the early 1940s he recorded blues selections for folklorists Alan Lomax and John Work. Shortly after his recording session, he joined the Silas Green Tent Show. Through his employment with Silas Green, he formed a professional association with William Lee Conley (Big Bill Broonzy). He made his first professional recording in 1946. Two of the musicians with whom...

  138. Morton, Jelly Roll (Ferdinand Le Menthe) (1885–1941) JAZZ MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 298-299)

    Self-proclaimed inventor of jazz, Ferdinand Le Menthe was among the earliest and most prominent of New Orleans jazzmen. Better known on the streets and among the world’s musical fraternity as “Jelly Roll” Morton, he was born in 1885 on the Gulf Coast near New Orleans. His African-Mediterranean-Caribbean ancestry placed him among that city’s Creoles of color, and he drew from their musical traditions. Morton’s family moved to New Orleans while the young Ferdinand was quite small, and he grew to manhood there within a community that enjoyed frequent contacts with Mexico and the Caribbean. The young Morton learned on his...

  139. Muscle Shoals Sound
    (pp. 299-302)

    Perhaps no other area in rural or smalltown America has been as significant a wellspring of internationally influential music as the northwest Alabama quadtown area of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia, often referred to as the Muscle Shoals area. For over two decades, from the mid-1960s to the 1980s, this diminutive area in rural Appalachian Alabama challenged the major urban popular music recording centers for the title of “hit recording capital of the world.” Initially emerging alongside Memphis as the second main southern recording center for soul music, with Rick Hall’s fame studios in the town of Muscle Shoals,...

  140. Nashville Sound
    (pp. 302-305)

    Most popular and scholarly accounts of country music history describe the Nashville Sound—a conscious sophistication of country music’s traditional rusticity—as a low point. Deliberately forged in the late 1950s and early 1960s when rock and roll captured the country’s audience for the rough and ready, the Nashville Sound echoed some of the stylistic traits of mainstream popular music—that is to say, of music more popular than country music. Hank Williams, arguably country music’s first superstar, died in 1953. That same year, Bill Haley and the Comets turned from country to rock and roll, with their recordings “Crazy,...

  141. Nelson, Willie (b. 1933) COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER.
    (pp. 305-307)

    Willie Hugh Nelson was born in Fort Worth, Tex., on 30 April 1933 and was reared in the little central Texas town of Abbott, where he was exposed to a wide variety of musical influences. He grew up singing gospel songs in the Baptist church but also played in honkytonks all over the state. Before he was a teenager, he began playing guitar in the German-Czech polka bands in the “Bohemian” communities of central Texas; he listened to the country music of Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell, and Floyd Tillman, but he was also an avid fan of jazz and vintage...

    (pp. 307-308)

    The Neville brothers—Art, Aaron, Charles, and Cyril—are likely the bestknown musical family to come out of New Orleans in recent decades. Both as individuals and as a group, they have made crucial contributions to several genres of popular music. Building on early careers in the fields of R& B and soul, the brothers were instrumental in defining the funk sound of the 1970s by reconnecting New Orleans music with its Caribbean and Afro-diasporic roots.

    Art, Charles, and Aaron were born in 1937, 1938, and 1941, respectively. Music and dance were central in their upbringing. Although not a musician,...

  143. New Orleans Sound
    (pp. 308-312)

    New Orleans has played a central role in the development of American—and especially African American—popular music and dance styles. Although jazz remains its most famous product, the city has made key contributions to rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, funk, and rap. Within the context of the United States, New Orleans’s uniquely diverse and layered history of cultural intermixture has helped the city to maintain a central presence in the national popular music culture, even as it remains on the margins of the corporate music industry.

    Settled by the French in 1718, Louisiana depended heavily upon enslaved...

  144. Oliver, King (1885–1938) JAZZ MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 312-313)

    Joseph “King” Oliver was born in or near New Orleans and became an early black jazz cornetist and bandleader. By 1900 he was playing cornet in a youthful parade band. From 1905 to 1915 Oliver became a prominent figure in various brass and dance bands and with small groups in bars and cafés. He soon gained the title “King” in competition with other leading local cornetists. In 1918 he joined a New Orleans band playing in

    Chicago, and by 1920 he was leading his own group there. He toured with this band in California in 1921 and, returning to Chicago...

  145. OutKast RAP GROUP.
    (pp. 313-315)

    The Atlanta-based rap duo known as OutKast—composed of Andre Benjamin (known as “Dre” and, after 1999, “Andre 3000”) and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton—is one of the most successful southern rap groups and has been instrumental in focusing national attention on the “Dirty South,” the burgeoning rap music scenes and industry in Atlanta and other major southern cities. The duo has produced a series of singles and albums that have earned widespread critical acclaim, with each successive effort reaching wider audiences, and has built a reputation for eclectic and experimental rap and pop music, which nevertheless remains grounded in...

  146. Parsons, Gram (1946–1973) ROCK SINGER.
    (pp. 315-316)

    Born 5 November 1946 in Winterhaven, Fla., Gram Parsons was one of the most influential popular musicians of his generation. As a teenager, a devoted follower of Elvis Presley, Parsons performed with rock-and-roll bands from 1959 until 1963, when he joined an urban folk music group, the Shilos. After briefly attending Harvard in 1965, he joined the International Submarine Band and began drawing upon his southern background in an early attempt to synthesize country and rock. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Parsons devoted himself to what he called “cosmic American music”—essentially a dynamic combination of southern-derived styles with a solid...

  147. Parton, Dolly (b. 1946) ENTERTAINER.
    (pp. 316-318)

    Dolly Parton is often described as a contemporary “Cinderella,” a fairy tale princess, or a country gypsy—a platinum blonde heroine who escapes poverty in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, achieves fame and fortune in Nashville and later Hollywood, and lives happily ever after. More realistically, she is a talented and creative artist and businesswoman.

    Dolly Parton was born in Locust Ridge in Sevier County, Tenn., the fourth of twelve children, to Avie Lee Owens and Randy Parton. Her grandfather Owens was a minister, and her early life with family and community centered around religion and the church....

  148. Patton, Charley (c. 1891–1934) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 318-320)

    Few people have had as great an impact on American music as has Charley Patton. Not only was Patton the first superstar of the blues, but many other forms of music today, such as gospel, R& B, soul, and, most particularly, rock and roll, were directly influenced by his work.

    Charley was born to Bill and Annie Patton around 1891 near the central Mississippi towns of Bolton and Edwards. At an early age he had a predilection for making music, and he learned to play the guitar when still very young. But Charley grew up in a hard-working and religious...

  149. Pearl, Minnie (1912–1996) COMIC FIGURE.
    (pp. 320-321)

    Minnie Pearl, the stage character created and performed by Sarah Colley, was one of the most popular and beloved performers in country music. Born on 25 October 1912 to a prominent family in Centerville, Tenn., Colley graduated from one of the South’s premier women’s schools, Nashville’s Ward-Belmont, and aspired afterward to a theatrical career. In 1934 she began work for the Sewell Production Company, which organized dramatic and musical shows in small towns across the South. Colley became director of the company, and while promoting a play in Sand Mountain, Ala., she met a woman who became the model for...

  150. Peer, Ralph (1892–1960) MUSIC PUBLISHER AND TALENT SCOUT.
    (pp. 321-323)

    Although he was born in Kansas City, Mo. (on 22 May 1892), and although he never expressed a great fondness for southern folk music, Ralph Sylvester Peer became the single most important entrepreneur for country and blues recordings. He discovered, or was instrumental in the careers of, dozens of southern artists, both black and white, including Louis Armstrong, the Memphis Jug Band, Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, Mamie Smith, the Georgia Yellow Hammers, Fiddlin’ John Carson, Ernest Stoneman, Grayson and Whitter (with their initial recording of the murder ballad “Tom Dooley”), the Rev. J. M. Gates (one of the first...

  151. Penniman, Richard (Little Richard) (b. 1933) ROCK-AND-ROLL SINGER.
    (pp. 323-324)
    W. T. LHAMON JR.

    Born into a large black family, in Macon, Ga., on 5 December 1933, Penniman adopted his nickname, Little Richard, at about age eight, when he began singing at church and school functions. By his early teens, Little Richard was performing on the road all across the South. He sang in minstrel shows, attracting audiences and selling snake oil. He sang the blues in bands following migrant workers as far afield as Lake Okeechobee in Florida, and he journeyed into cities to find gay clubs, where he played Princess Lavonne in the first of his several transvestite acts. Before he was...

  152. Pickett, Wilson (1941–2006) SOUL AND R&B SINGER.
    (pp. 324-325)

    The “Wicked” Wilson Pickett had one of the most fiery and distinctive voices of 1960s soul music. Many historians and fans agree that few artists could match Pickett’s deep, guttural intensity in the studio and onstage while he was in his prime during his years of recording for Atlantic Records. Born in rural Plattville, Ala., on 18 March 1941, Pickett was one of 11 children in a family of God-fearing sharecroppers. Here he got his first taste of music, singing in local Baptist church choirs as a child. But like many of his generation, Pickett tired of the hardships of...

  153. Powell, John (1882–1963) MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER.
    (pp. 325-326)

    Powell was born in Richmond, Va., where his father, a schoolteacher, and his mother, an amateur musician, provided his primary musical education at home. He then studied music with his sister and piano and harmony with F. C. Hahr, a onetime student of Liszt. After receiving his B. A. from the University of Virginia in 1901, he studied piano with Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna (1902–7). There he also studied composition with Carl Navratil (1904–7). Powell made his debut as a pianist in Berlin in 1907. After four years of giving concerts in Europe, he returned to the United...

  154. Preservation Hall
    (pp. 326-327)

    Preservation Hall, a New Orleans institution, celebrates the emergence of jazz as a popular musical innovation in the South. Philadelphians Allan and Sandra Jaffe founded the hall in the early 1960s at the suggestion of (and on property owned by) artist Larry Borenstein. Endeavoring to revitalize the roots of jazz, it has supported a resurgence of interest and activity in classic New Orleans jazz.

    At its outset, Preservation Hall provided a stage for fine old black jazz musicians who were unemployed. It also resuscitated a nearly extinct institution of musical life in the Crescent City—the community hall. Figures of...

  155. Presley, Elvis (1935–1977) ROCK-AND-ROLL SINGER.
    (pp. 327-328)

    Presley is probably the most famous southerner of the 20th century. Born in Tupelo, Miss., and reared in Memphis in near poverty, he became an international celebrity and one of the wealthiest entertainers in history. He has sold a billion record units worldwide, more than any other entertainer. Elvis had 149 singles onBillboard’s popular music charts, with 114 in the Top 40, 40 in the Top 10, and 18 singles reaching No. 1.

    In 1954 Presley made his first recordings for Sam Phillips’s Memphis-based Sun Records in a style that drew from diverse sources—gospel (black and white), blues...

  156. Price, Leontyne (b. 1927) GRAND OPERA AND CONCERT SINGER.
    (pp. 329-330)

    Leontyne Price was born in Laurel, Miss., where she grew up playing the piano and singing in the church choir.

    She graduated from Oak Park High School in 1944 and Wilberforce College in Ohio four years later. She then attended Juilliard School of Music on a scholarship, with financial aid from the Alexander F. Chisholm family of Laurel. Virgil Thomson selected her to sing the role of Saint Cecilia in a revival of hisFour Saints in Three Actson Broadway and at the 1952 International Arts Festival in Paris. After an audition with Ira Gershwin, she won the female...

  157. Price, Ray (b. 1926) COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER.
    (pp. 330-331)

    Ray Price, in a music career that has lasted more than 55 years, helped country music survive the death of Hank Williams and the introduction of rock and roll by creating a more forceful, rhythm-driven form of honky-tonk music. Later, in the 1960s, he broadened country music’s audience by moving toward a lush, sophisticated sound.

    He was born Noble Ray Price on 12 January 1926 in the east Texas farming community of Peach in rural Wood County. His parents split up when he was a young boy. He grew up spending summers working on his father’s farm in Perryville, Tex.,...

  158. Pride, Charley (b. 1938) COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER.
    (pp. 331-332)

    A little over a decade after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, Charley Pride accomplished a similar feat in country music. Born in Sledge, Miss., in the depths of the Great Depression to a family of poor cotton laborers, Pride not only opened new avenues of acceptance to minorities but set high standards of excellence in the field of country music.

    Many blacks in the Mississippi Delta were drawn to the blues, but Pride was more interested in country music, especially the songs of Hank Williams. At night he would listen to country music radio programs, memorizing the...

  159. Rainey, Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett (Ma Rainey) (1886?–1939) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 332-334)

    Acknowledged as the “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey brought rural blues to American musical life. Rainey was one of the first popular stage entertainers to incorporate blues into her repertoire, and in so doing, she brought blues from folk culture to the American mainstream through her touring performances and recordings. During an era when smooth, female blues singers dominated the urban scene, she played an important role in connecting the work of these women to that of less- polished, male country blues artists. Rainey emerged as a cultural icon, particularly representing rural southern black life and early expressions of...

  160. Redding, Otis (1941–1967) SOUL SINGER.
    (pp. 334-336)

    Otis Redding epitomized the sound of soul music in the South in the 1960s. The “Big O,” as he came to be known, was born in 1941 in Dawson, Ga., and was raised in nearby Macon, one of six children of a Baptist minister. Singing in church throughout his youth, Redding became increasingly fascinated by the rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll sounds to be heard on Macon radio, especially those of local luminary Little Richard, the Georgia Peach.

    By 1956 Redding was playing locally with Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers; by 1957 he was managed by Phil Walden (later of Allman Brothers...

  161. Reece, Florence (1907–1986) WRITER AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST.
    (pp. 336-337)

    Florence Reece is the author of several poems, short stories, and songs. A coal miner’s daughter from Sharp’s Chapel, Tenn., she is best known for her struggle song “Which Side Are You On?,” written to rally support for the 1930 United Mine Workers’ strike in Harlan County, Ky. No political ideologue, Reece wrote her song out of a sense of desperation when her husband, Sam, was blacklisted, beaten, and driven from their home because of his activities as a union organizer among his fellow miners. As she watched her children and others in the community suffer hunger and deprivation, Reece...

  162. Reed, Jimmy (1925–1976) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 337-338)

    Jimmy Reed was born Mathis James Reed on 6 September 1925, the youngest of 10 children. His parents, Joseph Reed and Virginia Ross, were sharecroppers on a Delta plantation near the small hamlet of Dunleith, Miss. Reed attended public schools briefly, but after he finished third grade he began working in the fields full time. When he was about 10, a family member gave him his first acoustic guitar, and Reed also started playing harmonica.

    In the late 1930s, after his family moved to Shaw, Miss., Reed joined a gospel quartet. Although it was doing well, he eventually decided to...

  163. R.E.M. ROCK BAND.
    (pp. 338-340)

    R.E.M. was formed in 1980 by University of Georgia students Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe in Athens, Ga., and is known as a pioneering college rock band that bridged the gap between the post-punk era of the late 1970s and early 1980s and the alternative-rock era of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Stipe and Buck met at Wuxtry Records in downtown Athens and soon joined Mills and Berry (who had played music together while in high school in Macon, Ga.) to write songs and play at parties in the college town. The name “R.E.M.” was...

  164. Revival Songs
    (pp. 340-341)

    The poetry and music of revivalism has been a major influence in American popular culture, especially in the South. In the first camp meetings, around 1800, preachers found the psalms and hymns of congregational worship inadequate: traditional hymns did not sufficiently emphasize the individual’s quest for salvation through specific stages (conviction, conversion, assurance) recognized by revival preachers; moreover, hymnbooks were of little use in largely illiterate gatherings often held at night. In response to the camp-meeting environment, Americans created two major forms of popular religious song during the period from 1810 to 1860.

    “Camp-meeting songs,” or “spiritual songs,” were strophic...

  165. Ring Shouters
    (pp. 341-342)

    Ring shouting is the oldest African American song form still practiced in America. It combines worship song and distinctive dance. Separate from spirituals, ring shouts were often performed at important religious holidays by riceand cotton-plantation slaves in the South Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry, where a high percentage of slaves were African-born and maintained much of their native heritage.

    A ring shout begins in a church meetinghouse when a lead singer, or “songster,” begins the song while seated next to a “sticker,” who sets the rhythm by beating the wooden floor with a broom handle or other stick. Behind them a...

  166. Ritchie, Jean (b. 1922) FOLK SINGER.
    (pp. 342-344)

    Although she grew up a traditional musician in the Cumberland Mountains of eastern Kentucky, having sung an extensive repertoire of folk ballads and songs taught to her by other family members during her childhood, Jean Ritchie has also been a commercially successful singer and songwriter who was nationally influential during the urban folk music revival of the mid-to late 20th century.

    Born on 8 December 1922, in the small community of Viper, in Perry County, Ky., Jean Ritchie was the youngest of the 14 children born to Balis and Abigail Ritchie (both parents were of Scots-Irish descent). The Ritchie family...

  167. Rodgers, Jimmie (1897–1933) COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER.
    (pp. 344-345)

    Generally acknowledged as “the Father of Country Music,” James Charles “Jimmie” Rodgers, who was born 8 September 1897 in Meridian, Miss., was a major influence on the emerging hillbilly recording industry almost from the time of his first records in 1927.although Rodgers initially conceived of himself in broader terms, singing Tin Pan Alley hits and popular standards, his intrinsic musical talent was deeply rooted in the rural southern environment out of which he came, as seen in the titles of many of his songs: “My Carolina Sunshine Girl,” “My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans,” “Dear Old Sunny South...

  168. Scruggs, Earl (b. 1924) BLUEGRASS MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 345-347)

    Earl Eugene Scruggs was born on 6 January 1924, in Cleveland County, N. C., on a farm near the small community of Flint Hill. He was the youngest of five children. His father, who played the banjo, died when Scruggs was four; his mother, brothers, and sisters all played music. By the time he was six he was playing string band music with his brothers. Scruggs learned fiddle and guitar but specialized in the five-string banjo. Before he was a teenager he de- veloped a distinctive three-finger picking style based on that of older men in his neighborhood. In his...

    (pp. 347-348)

    Mike Seeger has arguably been the single figure most responsible for bringing traditional music of the American South to urban audiences around the world. Although other members of his illustrious family, especially his parents, Charles and Ruth Crawford Seeger, and his half brother, Pete, have earned equal or greater renown for the varied aspects of their careers in American music, Mike’s undivided attention to championing authentic southern traditional music, and specifically its musical aspects rather than sociopolitical potential, secures his position as its premier ambassador.

    Born on 15 August 1933 into one of America’s most important musical families, Mike Seeger...

  170. Shape-Note Singing Schools
    (pp. 348-350)

    The singing school was early America’s most important musical institution. It offered a brief course in musical sight reading and choral singing, was taught by a singing master according to traditional methods, and used tunebooks, which were printed manuals containing instructions, exercises, and sacred choral music. Singing schools arose from British antecedents around 1700 as part of an effort to reform congregational singing in colonial churches. In New England the movement grew quickly and culminated in the first school of American composers and in the publication of hundreds of sacred tunebooks (1770–1810). Singing schools existed in the South as...

  171. Shore, Dinah (1917–1994) ENTERTAINER.
    (pp. 350-351)

    Francis Rose Shore was born on 29 February 1917 in Winchester, Tenn., to Solomon and Anna Stein Shore, Jewish Russian immigrants who owned a dry goods store in the town. At the age of two, Shore was stricken with polio. Although her family managed to obtain excellent care for the child, she was left with a somewhat deformed foot and a limp. The Shore family moved to Nashville in 1925, and Francis Rose became active in school and in extracurricular activities, including cheerleading, sports, and music. The young woman’s activities became more focused on music, and by the time she...

  172. Silas Green Show
    (pp. 351-352)

    Silas Green from New Orleanswas a traveling minstrel show that was owned, written, managed, and performed by black people. For over a half century (1907–58) the Silas Green Company toured urban and rural communities exclusively in the South and established itself as an institution among its black and white segregated audiences. Approximately ten months a year, six nights a week, the show traveled throughout Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alabama.

    The family-oriented comedy and musical show combined the theatrical traditions of minstrelsy and black musi- cal comedy....

  173. Smith, Bessie (1894–1937) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 353-353)

    When Bessie Smith made her first recordings, in 1923, she carved out for herself a permanent niche in blues and jazz history. By that time, her magnifi-cent voice, captured by the relatively primitive acoustical equipment of the day, was already well known and greatly admired throughout the South.

    Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., on 15 April 1894, Smith had her first show business experience when she was about eight: accompanied by her brother Andrew with his guitar, she danced and sang for small change on a Ninth Street corner. It was another brother, Clarence, who in 1912 arranged for her to...

  174. Southern Culture on the Skids ROCK BAND.
    (pp. 353-355)

    A little bit silly, a little bit raunchy, and a whole lot of fun, Southern Culture on the Skids, or scots, as it is known to its fans, has been a popular and influential band since the mid-1980s. Guitarist and singer Rick Miller cofounded the group in Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1985, partly as a protest against the alternative southern rock of R.E.M. and others, as well as the heavily commercialized pop and country then dominating the airwaves. By 1988 the group had re-formed as a trio when Miller, the principal songwriter, joined up with singer and bassist Mary Huff...

  175. Spears, Britney (b. 1981) POP SINGER.
    (pp. 355-356)

    It is unlikely that those holding the keys to the Valhalla of Southern Music are ever going to let Britney Spears do more than loiter in the lobby. In part, this reflects conflicts over the definition and boundaries of “southern music,” particularly whether the pop style Spears has ridden to fame can count in any meaningful way as southern. But her fans and critics at the vernacular level settled the matter in the affirmative long ago. For them it is the arc of her life and the constellation of her values, rather than the qualities of her music, that reveal...

  176. Stax Records
    (pp. 356-359)

    From a meager and tentative start in 1959 as Satellite Records, by the mid-1960s Stax had become the record label most responsible for defining the commercially successful and widely influential “Memphis Sound.” Although Memphis, as one of the most significant cultural crossroads in the South, had supported a number of vibrant live music scenes throughout the foregoing part of the 20th century and the city’s hybrid sounds had received their first major national exposure when artists initially recorded by Sam Phillips left Memphis for greener pastures, it was Stax and its alumnus Chips Moman’s American Sound Studio that sent Memphis-recorded...

  177. Still, William Grant (1895–1978) MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER.
    (pp. 359-361)

    Known as the “dean of Afro-American composers,” William Grant Still spent more than 50 years composing, conducting, and playing music that re-flected a fusion of his spiritual and musical imagination, his diverse ethnic ancestry, and 20th-century American culture.

    His mother came from black, Spanish, Indian, and Irish stock and his father from black, Indian, and Scotch stock. Still was born on 11 May 1895, on a Woodville, Miss., plantation near the Mississippi River. He lived there only nine months before his father, a teacher and bandleader, died. His mother moved the family to Little Rock, Ark., where she began teaching....

  178. String Band Tradition
    (pp. 361-362)

    Primarily a mid-19th-and 20thcentury phenomenon, string bands have been, and continue to be, one of the South’s major folk music ensemble forms. They derive from both Anglo-and African American musical cultures, although they are more frequently associated with whites than with blacks. String bands consist of a number of musicians, generally from three to six, most of whom play acoustic stringed instruments. The fiddle, present in the South from the earliest days of colonization, and the banjo, an instrument that developed in the 19th century from African roots, are typically the core instruments, usually joined by at least one guitar,...

  179. Stuart, Marty (b. 1958) COUNTRY SINGER.
    (pp. 362-363)

    Musical prodigy, singer, songwriter, record producer, writer, photographer, raconteur, artifact collector, and archivist, Marty Stuart is among the most versatile figures in modern country music. He was born John Marty Stuart in Philadelphia, Miss., on 30 September 1958. Drawn to gospel, bluegrass, and country music almost from infancy, Stuart was already a skillful mandolin and guitar player by the age of 12, at which time bluegrass music icon Lester Flatt hired him for his band. After the ailing Flatt disbanded his group in 1978, Stuart toured with fiddler Vassar Clements and guitarists Doc and Merle Watson. Next he joined Johnny...

  180. Sun Records
    (pp. 363-365)

    Sun Records was established in 1952 by Sam Phillips as the primary record label for commercial releases from that pioneering producer’s Memphis Recording Service (founded in 1949). By the mid-1950s, Sun Records, based in Memphis, had emerged as arguably the most significant recording company of that era—and indeed it stands as among the most influential independent recording companies in the history of American popular music. Sun Records played a major role in the evolution of four genres of American music: blues, rhythm and blues, country (through the label’s invention of the country music subgenre known as “rockabilly”), and, perhaps...

  181. Swamp Pop
    (pp. 365-367)

    A distinct rock-and-roll subgenre, swamp pop music combines New Orleans–style rhythm and blues, country-and-western music, and Cajun and black Creole music; it is indigenous to south Louisiana and a small part of east Texas. Swamp pop appeared during the mid-to late 1950s when teenage Cajun and black Creole musicians experimented with modern pop music elements. In doing so they unwittingly fused the sounds of artists like Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard with south Louisiana’s ethnic music traditions.

    The swamp pop sound is typified by highly emotional vocals, simple, unaffected, and occasionally bilingual (English and Cajun French) lyrics,...

  182. Sweeney, Joel Walker (c. 1810–1860) MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 367-367)

    Until recently “Joe” Sweeney enjoyed legendary status as the “inventor” of the five-string banjo. As a boy Sweeney learned to play the banjo from slaves on his father’s farm, where he was born, near present-day Appomattox, Va. According to the legend, he improved their African-derived instrument by fashioning a wooden hoop to replace the original gourd body and, more important, by adding (around 1831) a short, highpitched fifth (or thumb) string to the original four. The long-held claim that he thus invented the five-string banjo is supported by little documentary evidence, and recent informed opinion challenges it, primarily on the...

  183. Taylor, Koko (b. 1935) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 367-368)

    Koko Taylor, born Cora Walton on a farm near Memphis, Tenn., to share-cropping parents, developed an early love for music, particularly for what she heard in church and on B. B. King’s Memphis radio show. Although her parents preferred her interest in gospel music, Taylor and her five siblings covertly made instruments and played blues music together. The young Taylor was especially influenced by and favored earlier blues queens, such as Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton.

    In the early 1950s Taylor moved to Chicago and began working as a domestic, but at night she regularly went to blues clubs...

  184. Tharpe, Sister Rosetta (1921–1973) GOSPEL SINGER.
    (pp. 368-370)

    Born Rosetta Nubin on 20 March 1921, in Cotton Plant, Ark., Sister Rosetta Tharpe is considered one of the greatest gospel singers of her generation. She was a flamboyant stage performer whose music also flirted with the blues and jazz genres. Billed as “Little Rosetta Nubin, the pint-sized singing and guitar playing miracle,” Tharpe began performing at age four. She accompanied her mother, Church of God in Christ evangelist Katie Bell Nubin, who played mandolin and preached at tent revivals throughout the South. The elder Nubin was a traveling missionary and shouter in the classic tradition. She was known on...

  185. Thornton, Willie Mae “Big Mama” (1926–1984) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 370-370)

    Born Willie Mae Thornton on 11 December 1926 in Montgomery, Ala., to a religious family—her father was a preacher and her mother sang lead in the church choir—“Big Mama” Thornton left home at age 14 to pursue a career in show business. She toured with Sammy Green’s Hot Harlem Revue during the 1940s, where she honed her skills not only as a blistering vocalist but as a harp blower and drummer. She was a staple on the Houston, Tex., circuit when Duke/Peacock Records boss Don Robey signed her in 1951. She debuted on Peacock Records with “ Partnership...

  186. Tubb, Ernest (1914–1984) COUNTRY SINGER.
    (pp. 370-371)

    Ernest Tubb was a major personality in country music from the early 1940s to his death on 6 September 1984. He was a much-admired and -imitated vocal stylist, a pioneer in the popularization of the electric guitar, a patron of young talent, and one of the leading architects of the popular honky-tonk style of country music.

    Tubb was born on 9 February 1914 in the tiny community of Crisp, Tex., about 40 miles south of Dallas. Like many young musicians of his era, Tubb fell in love with the music of Jimmie Rodgers, and for many years he affected a...

  187. Turner, Ike and Tina (1931–2007; b. 1939) R&B, ROCK-AND-ROLL, SOUL, AND FUNK DUO.
    (pp. 372-373)

    Ike Turner in his early career and Ike and Tina Turner as part of one of the most exciting soul music revues in the 1960s and 1970s were significant contributors to the history of R& B, rock-and-roll, soul, and funk music. Born on 5 November 1931 in Clarksdale, Miss., Ike Wister Turner was witness to acts of unspeakable racist violence, including one that led to his father Iziah Turner’s slow death. Around the age of seven he started teaching himself the piano, initially practicing on one owned by a woman for whom he chopped wood. By the time he exited...

  188. Vaughan, James D. (1864–1941) GOSPEL MUSIC PROMOTER.
    (pp. 373-374)

    James D. Vaughan played a major role in the popularization of gospel music in America during the first half of the 20th century. His promotion company, the James D. Vaughan Company, was founded in 1912 in the middle Tennessee community of Lawrenceburg and remained in operation until 1964. Vaughan’s enterprise began as a singing school and then was expanded to include sales of records, songbooks, and magazines. His first songbook,Gospel Chimes, was published under his own name in 1900. His company eventually published 105 songbooks, which enjoyed successful nationwide sales. Vaughan was a creative businessman who sent male vocal...

  189. Washington, Dinah (1924–1963) BLUES AND JAZZ SINGER.
    (pp. 374-375)

    In his 2001 biography, Q , Quincy Jones describes Dinah Washington’s vocal style, saying she “could take the melody in her hand, hold it like an egg, crack it open, fry it, let it sizzle, reconstruct it, put the egg back in the box and back in the refrigerator and you would’ve still understood every single syllable.”

    Born Ruth Lee Jones in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on 29 August 1924, Dinah Washington and her family sought opportunity in the North, moving to Chicago in 1927. Her mother played piano at St. Luke’s Baptist Church, which proved important to her young daughter, as...

  190. Watson, Doc (b. 1923) FOLK MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 375-376)

    Arthel “Doc” Watson is a unique song stylist, an influential guitarist, and the repository of a vast range of American music originating in the South. Born 2 March 1923 in Deep Gap, N. C., Watson has been blind from birth. He grew up in a farm family oriented toward religion and music. His father was a song leader in the Baptist church, and the Watson family read the Bible and sang hymns most evenings. Watson learned traditional folk songs from his grandparents and his father, and the first instrument he played was the harmonica. He remembers at age six hearing...

    (pp. 376-377)

    In the fall of 1948, wdia, in Memphis, Tenn., became the first radio station in the South to adopt an all-black programming format. The station was owned by two white businessmen, but the man most responsible for the format change at WDIA was Nat D. Williams, a local black high school history teacher. Williams was brought into the station to do his own show on an experimental basis, and it proved to be an overnight sensation. He was the first black radio announcer in the South to play the popular rhythm-and-blues records of the day over the airways. His show...

  192. Wells, Kitty (b. 1919) COUNTRY SINGER.
    (pp. 377-378)

    Kitty Wells was born Muriel Ellen Deason in Nashville on 30 August 1919 to Myrtle and Charles Deason, both musicians. She sang and learned to play the guitar as a child and as a teenager sang with the Deason Sisters, consisting of herself, two sisters, and a cousin. After making her radio debut on wsix, Nashville, Deason met singer Johnnie Wright, whom she married in 1937. They performed together with Wright’s sister Louise, and later Jack Anglin, forming the Tennessee Hillbillies and the Tennessee Mountain Boys. The group separated at the onset of World War II when Anglin was drafted,...

  193. Whittaker, Hudson (Tampa Red) (1904?–1981) BLUES SINGER.
    (pp. 378-380)

    Blues musician Tampa Red, known as “the Guitar Wizard,” was prominently featured on southern performance circuits in the 1920s, followed by a successful career as a staple of the Chicago blues scene in the 1930s and 1940s. He was known as a master of slide or bottleneck guitar, playing with a distinctive and often-imitated style. One of the first black instrumentalists to make a recording, he enjoyed more than three decades in the studio, from 1928 to 1960.

    Tampa Red was born Hudson Woodbridge in Smithville, Ga., probably in 1904. Shortly thereafter he moved to Tampa, Fla., to live with...

    (pp. 380-381)

    The Wild Magnolias are a Mardi Gras Indian group from New Orleans led by Theodore Emile “Bo” Dollis (b. 1944). Founded in 1957 as one of the city’s many Indian “tribes” or “gangs,” the Wild Magnolias gained distinction in 1970 as the first group to make studio recordings of the distinctive music of these black Carnival societies and continued to record in subsequent decades.

    The Mardi Gras Indian phenomenon dates back to the late 19th century, when working-class blacks in New Orleans used a visual aesthetic inspired by Wild West shows as a means of expressing admiration for the resistance...

  195. Williams, Hank (1923–1953) COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER.
    (pp. 381-383)

    Widely acclaimed as country music’s greatest singer and composer, Hiram Hank Williams was born on 17 October 1923 at Olive Hill, near Georgiana, Ala., the son of a sawmill and railroad worker. He was introduced to music in the Baptist church where he was faithfully taken by his mother, and, according to popular legend, he learned both songs and guitar chords from a black street singer in Georgiana, Rufus Payne (“Teetot”).

    Williams’s evolution as a professional performer and composer began at the age of 14 when he won a talent show in a Montgomery theater singing his own composition, “wpa...

  196. Williams, Hank, Jr. (b. 1949) COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER.
    (pp. 383-384)

    Legendary for his hard-living lifestyle and beer-drinking ballads, Hank Williams Jr. is an established figure in the American country and southern rock genres. Born Randall Hank in Shreveport, La., on 26 May 1949 to country music legend Hank Williams and his wife, Audrey, this artist is most often referred to as “Hank Jr.” or “Bocephus,” a nickname given by his father after a popular country comedian’s ventriloquist dummy.

    Nearly a month after his son’s birth, Hank Sr. made a monumental debut on theGrand Ole Opry, which sent his career soaring for nearly three years until his untimely death in...

  197. Williams, Lucinda (b. 1953) SINGER AND SONGWRITER.
    (pp. 384-386)

    Lucinda Williams is one of the most respected singer-songwriters of the Americana roots-music movement, which began in the early 1980s. Her evocative lyrics and music command die-hard fan loyalty, and her perfectionist streak both on stage and in the recording studio are epic.

    Born in 1953 in Lake Charles, La., to a musician mother and a poet father, Lucinda has used both parental disciplines in her music and performances. Her poet father, Miller Williams, moved the family from one southern university town to another, exposing Lucinda to various writers and intellectuals during her formative years. Additionally, diverse musical influences such...

  198. Wills, Bob (1905–1975) WESTERN SWING MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 386-387)

    James Robert Wills was born near the town of Kosse in the Black Belt of east Texas on 6 March 1905. From his family he learned to play fiddle music, which had been part of frontier cultural life from the East Coast to west Texas. From the blacks in the Black Belt he learned blues and jazz. At age 10, Wills played his first dance at a ranch in west Texas; by then he had begun to add blues and jazz idioms to traditional fiddle music. This combination was eventually called “western swing” and became one of the most distinctive...

  199. Wilson, Cassandra (b. 1951) BLUES AND JAZZ SINGER.
    (pp. 387-388)

    With a long and varied recording career, singer Cassandra Wilson has become one of the most popular contemporary jazz singers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. She is known for her unique, multifaceted voice and her perpetual drive to explore a multitude of musical genres and styles, while infusing them with her own distinctive jazz sensibility. With 17 solo albums and a number of diverse collaborations to her name, Cassandra Wilson is a powerful and influential force in the world of jazz.

    Born in Jackson, Miss., on 4 December 1951, Wilson was the third and youngest child of...

    (pp. 388-390)

    Founded in 1926, Nashville radio station WLAC is one of the top-ranked AM stations in its home city and among the best known in the South. Clear Channel Broadcasting is its owner, having purchased it from Billboard Broadcasting Corporation, which bought the station from the Life and Casualty Insurance Company in 1978. The station serves a population of over 600,000 and is on the air 24 hours every day. A network affiliate of Fox News Radio, WLAC-AM today primarily broadcasts all-talk programming, airing popular conservative talk shows such as those of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity.

    From the...

  201. Wynette, Tammy (1942–1998) COUNTRY SINGER.
    (pp. 390-391)

    Tammy Wynette was born Virginia Wynette Pugh on 5 May 1942 on a cotton farm in Itawamba County, Miss. Her father, a musician, died when she was eight months old. Tammy’s mother left her in the care of her grandparents while she worked in a defense plant in Memphis during World War II. As a young girl Tammy had music lessons, played her father’s instruments, and sang in a trio on a local gospel radio show. A month before her high school graduation, Tammy married Eurple Byrd, who proved an unreliable husband. She went to beautician school and worked as...

  202. Young, Lester (1909–1959) JAZZ MUSICIAN.
    (pp. 391-392)

    Lester Willis “Pres” Young was an African American tenor saxophonist whose influential style was viewed as revolutionary when first recorded during the late 1930s. He was a primary influence in the development of modern jazz.

    Born in Woodville, Miss., Young was the oldest of three children raised in the vicinity of New Orleans. His parents divorced in 1910, and his father remarried and took his children with him to Minneapolis by 1920. Willis “Billy” Handy Young, Lester’s father, was a talented musician who taught his children various instruments and later toured the South with his family in a band that...

    (pp. 393-394)
  204. INDEX
    (pp. 395-428)