Country, Western & Gospel Music

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What they see—and what a vast radio audience hears over station WSM—is a jamboree of country music supplied by a seemingly endless succession of country singers like Red Foley, Ernest Tubb, Texas Jim Robertson, Tennessee Ernie, Shorty Long, Montana Slim, Luke the Drifter, Yodel-ing Slim Clark, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Grandpa Jones.
Occasionally, girl singers like Mattie O'Neill, Ann Jones, and Sue Thompson appear on Opry, but for the most part entertainers are male. Singly, in pairs, trios and quartets, all try to outdo everyone else singing country songs to an audience that never seems to get its fill. When not singing on Opry, such singers have their own radio programs over Southern stations—an important fact in understanding why country music has reached a point where it can challenge pop.
For so many country singers were performing on South­ern radio that to pull listeners some began using musical arrangements as expert as any in the pop field. To liven things further, they added backgrounds of quartets, hand-clappers, whistlers and country-dance callers. Anything to vary the inevitable git-tar.
Next, Red Foley dropped the touch of hillbilly twang from his voice and recorded "Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy" straight against a background half-country, half-pop. The record swept the country field like a tornado and landed in pop. Hastily, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra recorded it, but Red Foley continued to outsell them both.
That did it, podner. Other country singers sliced off twangs, spruced up arrangements and recorded songs like "Walking the Floor Over You" and "Be Honest With Me." The pop public, already listening to the Weavers and Burl Ives, grabbed them. Country music was in there slugging.
It's been slugging ever since, and one thing calculated to enrage a country music addict is the suggestion that Nash­ville music is not as authentic as any dug up by the Weav­ers, simply because it isn't old.
Says one Nashvillite: "People who write our songs were born right in folk-music territory. Red Foley was born in Blue Lick, Ky. Jimmy Wakely comes from Mineola, Ark. They were brought up in the country and live there now,