International Country Music Day – September 17
Nashville has long been considered to be the Home of Country Music, although country music was actually born elsewhere – in Bristol, Tennessee.
Birth of Country Music
In the summer of 1927, when Charles Lindbergh had just made the first flight across the Atlantic and Babe Ruth was making home run history, record producer Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company was making music history in Bristol, Tennessee. Between July 25 and August 5 of that year, Peer conducted recording sessions using the latest technology – the new Western Electric electronic microphone. Nineteen performers and groups recorded 76 songs.
Those sessions – the now famous “Bristol Sessions” – are known as the Big Bang of country music. Johnny Cash said that they were “The most important event in the history of country music.”
Country music has always told stories – stories of trials and triumphs, of love and loss, and of compelling slices of everyday life in rural America – stories that resonate with people the world over.
The sounds of that original country music arose from a blend of Irish fiddle music, European folk music, and English ballads that were brought to America by early immigrants.
Country Music Moves to Nashville
The 1950s was the golden era of country music, when artists such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Hank Williams brought into country music musical elements from Delta Blues, Appalachian folk, Cajun music, Southern Gospel, Creole Zydeco, and other genres, creating a distinctly American sound.
These same artists, along with many others from that era, gave fans unforgettable stories and glimpses into the struggles of a hardscrabble life. I believe that the reason so many people the world over love country music is because of its authenticity – it comes from a very deep and intimate place inside the artist.
By the 2000s, country music had developed several sub-genres, including bluegrass, honky-tonk, country rock, country pop, and rockabilly.
Country Music gets its special day
In 2003, September 17 was officially proclaimed to be International Country Music Day. Why did they choose September 17? I’m not sure that anybody actually knows, although some say that it’s because September 17 is Hank Williams’ birthday. That sounds logical, but there are quite a few interesting country music events that happened on September 17 in past years.
1923 – Hank Williams was born in Mount Olive, Alabama. He’s regarded as one of the most important country music artists of all time, recording 35 singles that would place in the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked #1. He unfortunately died young, at only 29 years of age.
1955 – George Jones released “Why Baby Why” on Starday Records.
1959 – Johnny Cash made his first appearance on UK television when he appeared on “Boy Meets Girl”. He appeared in the show alone, because UK Musicians Union rules wouldn’t allow his backing group, the Tennessee Two, to accompany him.
1971 – Lynn Anderson’s record, “You’re My Man” hit #1 on the country music album chart. The record was a #1 hit on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart for seven weeks.
1972 – Faron Young, who had international success with “It’s Four in the Morning”, was charged with assault for spanking a girl in the audience at a concert in Clarksburg, West Virginia. He claimed that she spat on him. He appeared before a West Virginia justice of the peace and was fined $24, plus $11 in court costs. It was the first in a string of incidents involving Young, whose increasingly bizarre behavior began to overshadow his success.
1977 – Reba McEntire made her Grand Ole Opry debut. She almost didn’t make it in the door after a guard at the Opry gate missed her name on the night’s list of performers. Her parents and sister, Alice, drove 1,400 miles round trip from their Oklahoma home to see what turned out to be Reba’s three-minute performance that night.
2000 – The governor of Georgia inducts Trisha Yearwood into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
2012 – Rascal Flatts received the 2,480th star in the category of recording on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.
2013 – Marvin Rainwater died aged 88. The American country and rockabilly singer and songwriter had several hits during the late 1950s, including “Gonna Find Me a Bluebird.”
2014 – Country music star George Hamilton IV died in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 77. The singer and guitarist began performing as a teenager in the 1950s.
Why was International Country Music Day created?
This unofficial holiday was created as a way to bring together country musicians and fans of the popular music genre, and to increase the number of country music aficionados around the world.
How to celebrate International Country Music Day
Celebrating International Country Music Day is very simple – listen to country music!
Here are some ideas:
Go to a country music concert or festival. If you’re in Nashville, you’ll definitely find one this week!
If you play a musical instrument, learn one of the classic country music songs from the 1950s.
Listen to a country music playlist. Here’s a good one on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DWZBCPUIUs2iR
If you want to go all-out for this special day, invite your friends over, ask them to dress up like cowboys and cowgirls, and bring a pot-luck dish. Be sure and have a country musician on hand for live music.
Share your celebration on social media with the hashtag #InternationalCountryMusicDay .
Don’t forget to tag @indieinsidernashville ! 😇
Thank you for reading. 😍 😋