Fiddling John Carson of Fannin County, Georgia, was recorded by Okeh Records in 1923, the first known recording of old-time Appalachian music. The most popular group to emerge from the Bristol Sessions in 1927 was the Carter Family of Hiltons, Virginia. Dock Boggs (1898-1971) was a coal miner from Norton, Virginia, who recorded a few songs in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He was influenced by local African-American musicians including a man he recalled as Go Lightning. In 1963 he was “rediscovered” by Mike Seeger and befriended by Jack Wright and became a fairly prominent performer of the folk revival, joining Jean Ritchie of Viper, Kentucky; Roscoe Holcomb of Daisy, Kentucky; Lily May Ledford of Powell County, Kentucky; Billy Edd Wheeler of Boone County, West Virginia; Odetta Holmes of Birmingham, Alabama; Hedy West of Cartersville, Georgia; Hazel Dickens of Montcalm, West Virginia; and Doc Watson of Deep Gap, North Carolina. By that time, regional music performers included Tennessee Ernie Ford of Bulls Gap, Tennessee; Loretta Lynn of Butcher Hollow, Kentucky; Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper of Valley Head, West Virginia, Roy Acuff of Maynardville, Tennessee, Patsy Cline of Gore Virginia, Dolly Parton of Sevierville, Tennessee, Red Sovine of Charleston, West Virginia and The Blind Boys of [Talladega] Alabama. Later, additional recording stars emerged from the mountains including Ricky Skaggs of Cordell, Kentucky, Ronnie Milsap of Robbinsville, North Carolina, Chet Atkins of Luttrell, Tennessee, Emmylou Harris of Birmingham, Alabama, Tom T. Hall of Olive Hill, Kentucky, and the band, Alabama, of Fort Payne. As Bluegrass emerged, The Stanley Brothers of Dickenson County, Virginia; the Osborne Brothers of Hyden, Kentucky; Mac Wiseman of Crimora, Virginia, Jim and Jesse McReynolds of Coeburn, Virginia, and Earl Scruggs of Flint Hill, North Carolina, were among the stars with roots in the mountains. Of course no discussion of Southern Appalachian recording stars is complete without homage to W. C. Handy (1873-1958) of Florence, Alabama, the “Father of the Blues, ” or Nina Simone (1933-2003) of Tryon, North Carolina.
-- George Brosi