The last week in November marked two anniversaries in country music history. George D. “Judge” Hayes introduced the WSM Barn Dance in Nashville on Nov. 28, 1925. He was joined by fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson in a show that quickly became very popular. Realizing that for the new radio show to survive and thrive it had to appeal to a broader audience than that in Nashville, Thompson included a musical component that would appeal to the surrounding rural area. The timing was very good since country music was gaining in popularity. Within weeks the show was a hit showcasing local talent; soon it expanded from one to three hours. Never heard of WSM Barn Dance? Perhaps you know it with the name it took in 1927: The Grand Ole Opry. Last week also marked the anniversary of Willie Nelson’s debut at the GOP on Nov.28, 1964. This week saw the fan-voted American Country Awards sponsored by Fox. The big winner was Jason Aldean who was named Artist of the Year; his “My Kinda Party” took Record of the Year.
You can get a feel for the country music lifestyle from DVDs and books. The library has films such as “Crazy Heart”, “Nashville” and “Country Strong” as well as documentaries about the Dixie Chicks and the legendary Johnny Cash. Mysteries by Donald Westlake (Baby Would I Lie) and W.L. Ripley (Electric Country Roulette) have country settings as do several novels such as Nashville Chrome by Rick Bass, And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You by Kathi Goldmark, and Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb.
For a bit of history country music check out Will the Circle Be Unbroken, edited by Paul Kinsbury, Sing Me Back Home by Dana Jennings, Classic Country: Legends of Country Music by Charles Wolfe and The Grand Ole Opry History of Country Music.
If you like country music, or if you just want to give it a try, choose a CD from the library’s collection (maybe Dolly Parton, Patsy Kline, Reba McEntire or Merle Haggard). If the genre captures you, you can follow up with some of the Grammy nominees. ACA winners Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood as well as such musicians as George Strait and Lady Antebellum are all nominated for Grammy awards scheduled to be given out in February.
– posted by Brenda, Reference Services