Why is Bristol the birthplace of country music?
In the summer of 1927, just two months after Charles Lindbergh made the first flight across the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis, and during the season that Babe Ruth was blasting out 60 home runs for the Yankees, record producer Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company was making music history in Bristol TN/VA. Between July 25 and August 5 of that year, Peer conducted recording sessions using the new Western Electric electronic microphone during which 19 performers (or groups of performers) recorded 76 songs. Those sessions – the now famous “Bristol Sessions” – are known as the “Big Bang” of modern country music, and were called by Johnny Cash “The most important event in the history of country music.”
The 1927 Bristol Sessions featured the first recordings of both Jimmie Rodgers, and the Carter Family. Jimmy Rodgers is now referred to as the “Father of Country Music” and was the first person inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Carter Family, featuring A.P., Sara, and Maybelle Carter, is now known as “The First Family of Country Music” and are also in the Hall of Fame. The 1927 Bristol Sessions not only initiated the careers of these superstar performers, but initiated the broad commercialization of country music. Many of the songs and stylings of those sessions still resonate and influence the music of today.
For these reasons, in 1998 the United States Congress officially designated Bristol TN/VA as the “Birthplace of Country Music.”
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