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COUNTRY MUSIC IS BIG BUSINESS, AND NASHVILLE IS ITS DETROIT
Not long ago a pretty little hymn singer from Tennessee came to New York to make some phonograph records. She also wanted to get a job in show business in the big city. And so she did, landing a singing spot at one of Manhattan's most glamorous night clubs, the Copacabana. A little later, an old friend spoke to her after the show. Was she happy? No, the little hymn singer answered. "I'm homesick," she said. "When they love you down there in Tennessee, they really love you—and besides, there's more money in it."
The big business of being a musical hillbilly could hardly have been stated more succinctly. For country music has become more than a regional manifestation; it has become a national desire. Song hits like "Slipping Around," "Anytime," "Candy Kisses," "Bouquet of Roses," "Jealous Heart," "Tennessee Waltz," "Slow Poke," and "Cold, Cold Heart" are just a few of the reasons that Tin Pan Alley and the record business watch the country-music hit parade with very interested eyes. Carl Smith, a dewy newcomer to this twang-wail-and-howl division of the electronics industry, will gross from his Columbia recordings, personal appearances, and radio contract with Kellogg more than $125,000 within the fiscal year. Three citizens known as Pee Wee King, Red Foley, and Hank Williams earn up to $200,000 apiece a year. Star performers such as Eddy Arnold and Roy Acuff enjoy yearly incomes of $250,000 or more.
HILLBILLY CAPITAL: Country music (a name preferred by its practitioners instead of hillbilly music, which almost everybody else calls it) is booming. And nowhere in the United States is this bull market manifested so keenly as in Nashville, Tenn. For the musnud of this synchronic art form now lies in the "Athens of the South," home of Vanderbilt University, Peabody College, site of the most exact replica of the Parthenon anywhere in the world, and
"Reprinted by permission from Newsweek, Vol. 40, No. 6, August 11, 1952."