Country, Western & Gospel Music

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Several years ago, the American Musicological Society rounded up a group of old-time musickers and brought them to New York for a radio appearance. One member took a 90-year old fiddler to his apartment for the night. After a breath-taking ride on the elevator, the fiddler was left at a window of the apartment overlooking the city and told to wait until his host made some telephone calls. That was the last his host saw him. When finally heard from, he was legging it on Route 17 headed for home with a sure sense of direction.
Present day artists are somewhat more urbanite than were their progenitors. They live in city apartments and employ managers. They are also in the higher-income brackets, thanks to increased sources of revenue such as radio and motion pictures. In fact, radio began working this vein first exposed by the phonograph in the '20s.
The discovery of Elton Britt, whose show went on the Blue Network last September, is a case in point. In 1929, when R. S. McMillan, California industrialist, was scouring the back country by plane in search of talent for his radio station, he stopped in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and eventually at the Britt farm. Elton, summoned from the field was asked if he could sing. "Yep," he said, reaching for his guitar and proving it on the spot.
Bound for Fame and Fortune
Half an hour later, Elton, in denims and work shirt, was aboard the plane bound for California. He had been offered more money in a week than he had ever made in a year. McMillan had telegraphed his press agents, who went all out to ballyhoo the find. When the party arrived at the Bev­erly Hills radio station, thousands of people were milling about. Scared numb, Elton made his debut on a plane wing.
Clutching his guitar, he nerved himself and ventured out in a thin, plaintive voice:
My father is a drunkard, My mother she is dead. I am just an orphan child, No place to lay my head.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III