At Country Music #CMchat we strive to bring our fans and readers the latest and greatest from the best genre of music worldwide. It’s not just in our name, it’s in our blood. Country Music. There are infinite ways it can be defined and to help us figure it out, we’re going back to the roots. Each week on Country Music #CMchat we’ll feature a different decade and tell you all about the artists, events, and happenings that made country music prominent during that time.
The identity of country music was a bit hazy in its beginning. What has remained constant throughout the span of the genre are its values and southern roots. Among those values are hardwork, good times, and love for family and God.
Country music started making headway in the 1920s. On June 14, 1923, Ralph Peer recorded music played by Fiddlin’ John Carson in an empty Atlanta loft. Carson’s record became a regional hit and led Peer to believe there could be a market for music of the “hillbilly” genre. Just one year later, a series titled, “Special Records for the Southern States” was started with the aim of issuing hillbilly records, but it wasn’t until 1925 when the term hillbilly became an official name for a genre.
The decade also produced one of country music’s most iconic performers, Mr. Hiram King “Hank” Williams. The singer-songwriter was born in Mount Olive, Alabama on September 17th, 1923.
That same year, on November 28th, WSM launched its Barn Party radio program which quickly became one of the most important programs of its kind. The Barn Party featured artists weekly, performing shows for live audiences as well as radio listeners from around the country. The program would later go on to launch the careers of many iconic country music artists. The Barn Dance Party is now known as the Grand Ole Opry.
In 1927 Ralph Peer made a discovery vital to the success of the genre and one that we know now as “The Father of Country Music.” Jimmie Rodgers and his band auditioned in front of Peer on August 3rd in Bristol, Tennessee. Peer made the decision to record the band the very next day. After a band break-up and records with only moderate success, Rodgers and Peer arranged to record again. It was in this second session where Rodgers recorded his song “Blue Yodel,” also known as “T For Texas.” This hit went on to sell nearly half a million records and launched Rodgers into stardom.
During the 1920s, country music and its many sub-genres started seeing more and more success, causing labels to swarm the south in search of singing cowboys. The rise of country music remained steady into the 1930s with the invention of two key instruments and the birth of “The Queen of Country Music.” Can you guess who and what those might be? Meet us back here, at Country Music #CMChat, next week, for your answers and a trip into country music of the 1930s.