early 1933, WSM organized the Artists' Service Bureau, a booking
agency designed to promote personal appearances for the WSM stars.
By this time DeFord was one of the most popular musicians on the
Opry. Surprisingly, when his race became apparent on tour, it seemed
to make little difference to audiences.
Dave Macon was the Opry's favorite performer, and I was
Acuff recalled that DeFord would always draw a crowd when out on
the road. All of the major acts took DeFord with them to guarantee
a larger audience.
"DeFord was loved all over the South,"
Pellettieri, Grand Ole Opry Stage Manager
restrictions and social norms of the time made socializing with
his white associates or fans next to impossible. He wasn't allowed
to eat or sleep in the same places. They often had to find him special
accommodations in the black section of town. Sometimes he had to
sleep in the car if they couldn't find a safe place for him to stay.
When eating meals, he usually had to eat in the kitchen of a restaurant
or in the car.
was the only African American in his day to perform regularly and
on an equal basis with white performers, and before white audiences,
in Dixie and elsewhere. >>
Source for the material
in this section, including excerpts:
David C. Morton with Charles K. Wolfe, DeFord Bailey: A Black Star
in Early Country Music (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1991)
YEARS | OPRY YEARS | POST-OPRY
2 |3 | 4