SINCE 1997

(1868 - 1949)

(born March 23, 1868, Fannin County, Georgia; died December 11, 1949, Atlanta, Georgia)

The music of Fiddlin' John Carson from Fannin County, Georgia, was the first of what we know today as "country music" to be broadcast by radio and recorded for phonograph.  He and his daughter, Rosa Lee, who was known as "Moonshine Kate," were the first stars despite the fact that little of the fame and none of the fortunes produced in the country music industry ever were theirs.

Carson was fifty-four years old, had won the Georgia Fiddlin' Championship seven times, and had a colorful reputation as a traveling performer who made a living playing and "passing the hat" when he was not working in the cotton mill, painting houses, or making moonshine when he walked into the "studios" of the brand new radio station WSB started by the Atlanta Journal.

When he announced that he would "like to have a try at the newfangled contraption," Lambdin Kay obliged him.  His only pay being a snort of the engineer's whiskey, Carson performed "Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane." 

The Journal reported that Carson's fame spread "to every corner of the United States were WSB was heard."  His popularity inspired Polk Brockman, an Atlanta furniture dealer who had been successful in developing and merchandising "race" records for the black market for OKeh records, to persuade OKeh president Ralph Peer to bring his recording equipment to Atlanta to record Fiddlin' John.

On June 14, 1923, in a vacant building on Nassau Street in Atlanta, Georgia, Carson cut two sides, "Little Old Log Cabin" and "The Old Hen Cackled and the Rooster's going to Crow."  Peer announced them "pluperful awful" but agreed to press five hundred on a blank label for Brockman's personal use.

With Fiddlin' John hawking them from the stage of the next Fiddler's convention, Brockman promptly sold every disc. Peer immediately rushed into a major pressing on the OKeh label and invited Carson to New York to record twelve more sides.

Zell Miller - They Heard Georgia Singing


By Carl P. McConnell

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