A grandson of enslaved people, Bailey contracted polio at the age of three, which stunted his growth and left his back somewhat bent. He grew up in a musical family who played what he called “black hillbilly music,” a tradition of secular string band music actually shared by rural Black and white musicians alike. Bailey was a professional musician from the age of 15 and was a regular performer on Nashville radio station WSM in the 1920s. He was the first performer to be introduced on the station's now-legendary Grand Ole Opry program.
Bailey learned how to play the harmonica while recuperating from polio as a young child.
The deeply influential pioneer of American roots music.
A folk guitar master. She won her first Grammy at age 90.
An instrumental figure in the birth of country music.
The Jackie Robinson of country music.
The trailblazing Black female country star.
Born in the Mississippi Delta.
Born in New Orleans with roots in ragtime and the blues.
Black musical tradition is a part of its core.
The progeny of spirituals and cousin to the blues.