Unlike many other genres of music, you can, for the most part, trace the start of commercial country music to one specific day.
On August 1, 1927 A.P Carter, his wife Sarah Carter, and her sister Maybelle Carter traveled to Bristol, Tennessee, from their farm in Western Virginia to audition with producer Ralph Peer. In what eventually became known as the “Bristol Sessions,” The Carter Family recorded and copyrighted some of the first country songs, spawning what has been regarded as the “Big Bang” of commercial country music. Instrumental in paving the way for the country music that we know today, Bristol is regarded as the “birthplace of country music,” and home to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum since 2014.
Today were seeing a new birth of country music in that same region of Appalachia. Tyler Childers, Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton have all been called the “saviors of country music,” and rightfully so. Unlike the Carters, who would record the songs they heard other people singing in the mountains that surrounded them, Stapleton and the others of our generation sing their own songs. Childers with songs of opioid addiction and the loss of coal, Stapleton on alcohol dependency and Simpson’s of his own long road from Kentucky to the top of the industry. Appalachia is a place of beauty, pain, and hardship, and without it, country music as we know it may have never been born.