Celebrate the Heart of Country, Americana, and Roots Music!

Drop Us A Line, Y'all

Y'all interested in advertising, partnering up, contributing stories, joining our team, or just got a question? Well, don't be shy, drop us a line!

Follow Us

Here’s How “The Great Speckled Bird” Brought Roy Acuff Into Country Superstardom 

The Great Speckled Bird - Roy Acuff
by

In the 1930s, Roy Acuff popularized the classic hymn “The Great Speckled Bird.” 

It’s actually quite fascinating how Acuff ended up recording the song. At the time, the Tennessee native had just left the medicine show circuit and started playing at local shows with various musicians in the Knoxville area. He was starting to gain attention and was slowly becoming a household name.

But his journey to being a superstar picked up speed when he heard an obscure musical group called The Black Shirts singing much different lyrics but a similar traditional melody to the folk song “I’m Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes,” which became a hit for the Carter Family in 1929.

Roy Acuff was enamored by the song’s message and symbolism that he paid one of the group members a very hard-earned fifty cents to write down its lyrics. It was definitely the best half-dollar Acuff has ever spent. Within weeks, “The Great Speckled Bird” became Acuff and his band, the Crazy Tennesseans’ most requested piece. 

In 1938, the group performed “The Great Speckled Bird” at Grand Ole Opry – and something incredible happened. The station has actually received an overflowing positive mail regarding Acuff’s performance. “In two weeks, they sent my mail. It came in bushel baskets,” Acuff recalled.

Soon enough, Acuff started a residency at the Opry.

Tracing The Classic Hymns’ Roots

“The Great Speckled Bird” is one of the many Roy Acuff songs that show a strong religious influence. Tracing its roots led to the religiously framed story in which the song was actually composed by a minister and evangelist named Guy Smith, who traveled throughout Springfield, Missouri. It was also discovered that the song’s distinct lyrics were actually inspired by the twelfth chapter, ninth verse of the book of Jeremiah.

Ever since Acuff recorded “The Great Speckled Bird,” it has been covered by various artists, including Johnny Cash, Kitty Wells, Marty Robbins, and Jerry Lee Lewis, among others. 

Make sure to listen to Roy Acuff’s “The Great Speckled Bird” in the video below.

Latest Stories

Charley Pride + Did You Think to Pray

Did You Think to Pray?: A Timeless Gospel Song by Charley Pride

In 1971, Charley Pride took a big step in his career when he released his first gospel song, “Did You Think to Pray,” as part of his album of the ...

Alabama + Tennessee River

“Tennessee River”: The Song That Launched Alabama’s Country Reign

In 1980, the American country music band Alabama released the chart-topping song titled “Tennessee River” as part of their album, My Home’s in Alabama. Upon the song’s release, it immediately ...

Waylon Jennings' Controversial Exit from We Are The World Recording Session

“No Good Ol’ Boy Sings in Swahili”: Waylon Jennings’ Exit from “We Are the World”

In January 1985, a supergroup of 46 of the biggest music artists of the time, including Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, and Billy Joel, as well as country stars Ray Charles, ...

Zach Bryan + Pink Skies

Zach Bryan’s “Pink Skies” Explores Loss and Love

Country music singer-songwriter Zach Bryan released “Pink Skies” as part of his album of the same title. It immediately became the talk of the town because of the (definitely not ...

Hank Williams - Hey Good Lookin'

Hank Williams’ Relatable Charm in “Hey, Good Lookin’” 

When Hank Williams arrived in 1949 in Nashville, he didn’t wait long to become one of the biggest stars in country music. A year later until 1951, he enjoyed the ...

Cavendish Beach Musical Festival 2024

Cavendish Beach Music Festival 2024: What You Need To Know

Festival Title:Cavendish Beach Music Festival 2024Festival Duration:July 5-7, 2024Venue:Route 6 Ranch in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, CanadaPerformers Include:Brothers Osborne, Tyler Childers, Zac Brown Band, and moreTicket Information:Get Your Tickets Here ...

Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic 2024

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic 2024: What You Need To Know

Festival Title:Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic 2024Festival Duration:July 4, 2024Venue:Freedom Mortgage Pavilion in Camden, New JerseyPerformers Include:Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, and moreTicket Information:Get Your ...

Travis Tritt + Help Me Hold On

Travis Tritt Begs His Lover For One More Chance In “Help Me Hold On”

Country singer Travis Tritt scored his first number-one hit with his second release from his 1990 debut album Country Club titled “Help Me Hold On.” He co-wrote it with accomplished ...

Carrie Underwood Falls Off Stage on Tail End of South Carolina Concert

Carrie Underwood Rocks Carolina Country Music Fest Despite Rain

Country singer Carrie Underwood graced the last day stage of the Carolina Country Music Fest 2024 in Myrtle Beach and delivered one hell of a performance despite the massive downpour. ...

Billy Ray Cyrus Files for Divorce from Firerose, Seeks Annulment on Grounds of Fraud

Billy Ray Cyrus Files for Divorce from Firerose, Cites Fraud

American country singer Billy Ray Cyrus reached a breaking point with Australian singer Firerose just after seven months of marriage. According to court documents obtained by the Associated Press, Billy ...