Today, we continue to put into modern perspective the places of particular people in the history of Country Music. Let us talk about Jimmie Rodgers. He and the Carter family were among the first country music recording stars in the 1920s. Throughout his singing career, he earned several nicknames from “The Singing Brakeman” about his former job to “a white man gone black” and “a busboy in a roadside café singing nigger blues” for the influence he got from African-American’s chants. Later on, he would be dubbed “The Blue Yodeler” for his rhythmic yodeling and as “The Father of Country Music” which was rightly so.
Rodgers was born in Pine Springs, Mississippi in 1897. After his mother died, he went to live with his aunt Dora in the Meridian. There, he grew up streetwise and was an enthusiast for trains, railroads, and wayfaring travelers. Beside the railroad tracks is a water tank where he heard blues music and conversational topics among porters and railroad workers which later shaped his song lyrics. He also would frequent opera houses, theaters, and hotel lobbies where he heard plenty of jazz. Furthermore, having absorbed the lively rhythms of black popular music, he brought innovation to the then pure white and Southern monopoly to country music.
In 1927, his records began selling in millions. He sang about common people and their common lives. Also, he had his sister-in-law Elsie McWilliams co-wrote nearly 40 of his songs which all proved to be successful. Her moralistic insights in the song-writing were valuable.
In 1933, his tuberculosis battered body finally caved into death. However, two days before that, he had his last recording. For the final song, he opted to record alone ‘Years Ago,’ a fitting song for a great musician taking his bow for his finale act.[like_button]