You may be surprised to know that the multi-million dollar country music industry started right here in eastern Tennessee! While many folks think that this popular form of music began in Nashville, it actually started in Bristol, Tennessee, where Appalachian mountain folk music has been popular for generations! Here are 3 fun things to know about the history of country music in Tennessee:
1. Early Development of Country Music
The early development of country music in Tennessee began in the 18th and early 19th centuries when a unique mix of cultures were found in the rural communities living in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The European immigrants brought a variety of diverse musical traditions and instruments when they arrived to their new lives in America, including the Irish fiddle, Spanish guitar, Italian mandolin, and the German dulcimer. The West African banjo, which was an instrument popular with African Americans living in the south, joined the European influences to form an exciting new sound! This music began to spread through the rest of Tennessee and the surrounding states at the turn of the century.
2. First Country Music Superstars
The country music recording industry produced its first superstars during the 1927 Bristol Sessions, which is often referred to as the “Big Bang of Country Music.” Since the radio had become widespread as a means of entertainment, the sessions introduced the world to the sounds of the Carter Family and Jimme Rodgers. While the Carter family played old-time mountain music, Rodgers sang ballads and used a singing style called yodeling. Both became successful nationwide, and Rodger’s 1928 recording of “Blue Yodel” became one of the first country records to sell a million copies! These early Bristol recordings laid the groundwork for much of the country music that followed, and Congress passed a resolution recognizing Bristol as the “Birthplace of Country Music” in 1998.
3. Introduction of Modern Country Music Stars
WSM, an early Nashville radio station and home of the Grand Ole Opry radio show, guided the pulse of country music throughout the 20th century and gave rise to artists such as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Eddie Arnold. Many of the most important names in country music have come from eastern Tennessee, including Roy Acuff who was known as the “King of Country Music.” He helped move country music from its string and hoedown format to the singer-songwriter model that became popular in the early 1940s. The most recognizable country musician in east Tennessee is Dolly Parton, who continues to have a successful career with over 100 million record sales and her own theme park right here in Pigeon Forge!
Where to Hear Live Country Music in Tennessee
There is nothing like the sound of country music being performed live, so come on out to our theater for the best show in the Smokies! We are proud to keep eastern Tennessee’s musical tradition alive with a talented cast that sings everything from your favorite country classics to the hottest new country hits of today! Our Pigeon Forge show also features dynamic dancing, side splitting comedy, and plenty of American patriotism, all in a multi-million dollar theater with state-of-the-art sound and lighting!
Now that you know about the history of country music in Tennessee, check out all of the information about our show in Pigeon Forge TN today to hear some of your favorite country tunes performed live! We look forward to seeing you soon!