1920s

As the decade began, the spring-wound talking machine with pre-electrical, no-fidelity sound was already established and probably the most popular of the home entertainment devices; the best selling makes were the Victrola and the Graphanola.
Radio stations were mushrooming across the United States in the 1920s.  In March of 1922, the Atlanta Journal opened up WSB in Atlanta, the first radio station in the south.  Six months later on September 9, Fiddlin' John Carson made his radio debut, one of the first country music performers to modulate the airwaves.

The Grand Ole Opry, originally known as the WSM Barn Dance, made its inaugural broadcast on November 28, 1925.

In the 1920s, Ma Rainey, "The Mother of the Blues," became a featured performer on the T.O.B.A (Theater Owners Booking Association) circuit.  Before signing a recording contract with Paramount Records in 1923, Rainey had almost a quarter century's worth of stage work to her credit.

Bessie Smith was the greatest and most influential classic blues singer of the 1920s.  During her heyday, she earned upwards of $2000 per week, a queenly sum in the 20s.

King Oliver is a legend in Jazz history.  As a trumpet player, he was strongly influenced by Buddy Bolden whom he imitated, but Oliver soon became a Jazz stylist in his own right. In the end, the designation of "king," which Bolden had long assumed, became Oliver's--particularly after one memorable night in Storyville

In the early 1920s, Louis Armstrong joined King Oliver in Chicago--playing solos with Fletcher Henderson at the Roseland Ballroom in New York and making jazz history with the Hot Five.

Cow Cow Davenport was one of the earliest boogie-woogie pianists.

Sippie Wallace was born in Texas and carried with her a tradition of Texas-styled blues that emphasized risque` lyrics and rough-cut, rural vocal phrasing rather than the sophisticated accents of the era's more cosmopolitan blues singers.  Although her recording career stretched throughout most of the 20s, her best work was done from 1923 to 1927 when the likes of Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Sidney Bechet, and Clarence Williams accompanied her in the recording studio.

Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded over eighty blues tunes between 1925 and 1929 and was generally responsible for the surge of popularity in the country blues in this period.

During the mid-1920s, the unexpectedly strong sales of Blind Lemon Jefferson's Paramount 78s sent record scouts scrambling to sign male blues artists.  One of their best discoveries was Blind Blake, a swinging, sophisticated guitarist whose warm, relaxed voice was a far cry from harsh country blues.

Charlie Poole developed a three-fingered banjo playing technique after a baseball accident injured his right hand. This technique influenced many banjo players and would later be perfected by Earl Scruggs.

Ralph Peer recorded Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family in Bristol, Tennessee in 1927.  Rodgers, known as "The Father of Country Music," reportedly sold over 20 million records in the six years of his career.

Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers was the most prolific of the Georgia string bands of the 20s and 30s in terms of number of recordings.

Blind Willie McTell recorded his first sides for the Victor company in 1927 in Atlanta.

Memphis Minnie signed with Columbia records in 1929.

Charlie Patton and Son House defined early Delta blues in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Related 1920s

The 1920s
(American Popular Culture Through History)
(Hardcover)

The American 1920s had many names: the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age, the Dry Decade, and the Flapper generation. Whatever the moniker, these years saw the birth of modern America. This volume shows the many colorful ways the decade altered America, its people, and its future. OWN THIS BOOK!



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But for a few twists of fate, Atlanta could easily have grown to be the recording center that Nashville is today.Pickin' on Peachtree traces Atlanta's emergence in the 1920s as a major force in country recording and radio broadcasting, a position of dominance it enjoyed for some forty years. From the Old Time Fiddlers' Conventions and barn dances through the rise of station WSB and other key radio outlets, Wayne W. Daniel thoroughly documents the consolidation of country music as big business in Atlanta. He also profiles a vast array of performers, radio personalities, and recording moguls who transformed the Peachtree city into the nerve center of early country music. More...



MY MUSICAL LIFE
By Carl P. McConnell

Mabel McConnell talks about the Carter Family, Doc & Carl,
The Original Virginia Boys and the early days of radio.


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