Personalities | Vernon Dalhart | Early Years of Hillbilly | Country

(Vocals, harmonica, 1883–1948)

Although a trained singer with experience in opera – and from 1917 a full-time recording artist in the popular field – the Texas-born Dalhart is best known for his vast catalogue of recordings in the hillbilly idiom, beginning with ‘The Wreck Of The Old ’97’ and ‘The Prisoner’s Song’ in 1924. In all, he recorded more than 1,000 tracks, issued on innumerable labels and under dozens of pseudonyms. These embraced every kind of country song, from topical (‘The Death Of Floyd Collins’) to weepie (‘The Letter Edged In Black’) to mock-gospel (‘Golden Slippers’). He was typically accompanied by his own harmonica, a studio fiddler and Carson Robison, playing guitar and singing harmony. It was not genuine southern music, but as an impression of it for a non-southern audience it was evidently very effective – at least until the Depression. By 1932 his popularity was fading, and he ended his life as a penurious voice coach.

Styles & Forms | Early Years of Hillbilly | Country
Personalities | Tom Darby & Jimmie Tarlton | Early Years of Hillbilly | Country

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, consultant editor Bob Allen


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