Music Birthday: DeFord Bailey Sr.

Today, December 14, 1899, DeFord Bailey Sr. was born in Smith County, Tennessee. Though he struggled with polio, Bailey broke racial barriers as a black musician when he performed on the Grand Ole Opry – originally The Barn Dance – in December 1924. Ultimately helping establish the country music genre. 

With his harmonica, stature and signature countryside train sound skill, Bailey became one of the first melanin-dominant musicians to record music for RCA Records. 

There’s nothing new under the sun, just recreation and fun. One of the most influential artists in blues, country and traditional pop music, DeFord Bailey helped pave the way for uniqueness like Lizzo and her flute to be well-received in the mainstream.

Stream DeFord Bailey’s ‘John Henry’ on YouTube today

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