DeFord Bailey (1899-1982), the first black country music star of the Opry is slowly gaining more respect for the pivotal role he played in country music. The Tennessee Folklore Society has issued a collection of rare recordings by Bailey: The Legendary DeFord Bailey: Country Music's First Black Star (Tennessee Folklore Society Records).
David C. Morton and Charles K. Wolfe wrote Deford Bailey: A Black Star in Early Country Music (University of Tennessee Press, 1991), an excellent biography of his career. An NPR audio feature by Lost and Found Sound about Bailey and his popular recording of "Pan American Blues" is archived. DeFord Bailey is by no means the only black performer in country music. While not a subject that is well known, African-American performers have had a significant presence in country music. The best survey of the subject is a three CD box set, From Where I Stand - The Black Experience in County Music, produced by the Country Music Foundation (Warner Bros., 1998).
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