Country, Western & Gospel Music

A History And Encyclopedia Of Composers, Artists & Songs

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the home of Acuff, Arnold, Foley, and Williams, as well as that of the Grand Ole Opry, WSM's Saturday-night hillbilly radio marathon. The Grand Ole Opry started in 1925. One half-hour of its live four-hour show has been broadcast over NBC since 1939. More than 3,500 people from an average of 38 states flock to the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville every Saturday night and pay admission personally to see the doings. Between 5,000,000 and 8,000,000 listen to the net­work broadcast.
The originals of this kind of folk singing appear to have come into the south-eastern hills of North America with the earliest immigrants from the British Isles, then to have spread easily with the settlement of the continent, and then, almost atomically, to have imploded since the second World War all the way to Korea. It's a big thing.
The acknowledged king of the latter-day cannon in the country-music world in Tennessee is Roy Acuff. Brighter stars may shine here and there in the skies over hillbilly lyricism. But none has burned with a more enduring light than AcufTs. He brought country music into the current atheneum.
Acuff is a multithreat man. First and foremost, he is an entertainer. He is also a composer-publisher and a busi­nessman-politician. As a free-style recording entertainer, Acuff sold 19,000,000 records in sixteen years for Columbia Records. He and his Smoky Mountain Boys and Girls command top billing and top prices from WSM's talent bu­reau. Occupation troops in Europe voted to have him come over for personal appearances in preference to other stars.
PUBLISHER-POLITICIAN: While Acuff hasn't had the time during the past busy years to concentrate on compos­ing, he has turned out his share of country-music classics. "Precious Jewel," one of the biggest record sellers, was his, and so was "Streamlined Cannon Ball." Meantime, Acuff is heavily involved in one of the most important and lucra­tive sectors of the hillbilly-music business. He owns half-interest (in his wife's name) of Acuff-Rose, one of the three most powerful publishers in the country-music field. Last year Acuff-Rose grossed more than $600,000. Acuff-Rose's popular contributions to America's native rhythms include "Jealous Heart," "Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy," "Bona-