Bluegrass is one of the music genres that have the roots in entirely America. It was developed in the 1940s in the Appalachian region of the United States. Many artists have contributed to this unique musical genre. However, it cannot be denied that Bluegrass finds its origins in Indiana, the state where Bill Monroe, the proclaimed father of Bluegrass music, created and developed the this style.
Origin and Characteristic of Bluegrass Music
Bluegrass music has its foundations in the Appalachian region of the United States. This particular region was made the home of Scots, Englishmen, and Ulster Protestant settlers in the 18th century who brought the flavorful music of their homelands to America. The roots of Bluegrass music was English and Scottish ballads which are played mainly with fiddles. Their music is not narrative and was made to accompany the dances. This music genre got its name from a founding band called Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. They played the music that was not only reminiscent of Scottish, Irish, and English music, their songs were also influenced by African-American folk music. Music enthusiasts and fans of the genre describe Bluegrass as a fascinating combination of blues and jazz with sounds that are high and lonesome.
Bill Monroe and his Original Bluegrass Band
William “Bill” Monroe, the father of Bluegrass music, was born in Kentucky. He moved to Indiana with his brother Larry to work at an oil refinery at age 18. While living there, Bill, Larry and their childhood friend guitar player William “Old Hickory” Hardin formed a band that became popular in house parties and local dances. With the success of the band, the brothers eventually chose to form their own group called the Monroe Brothers which were successful for several years but ultimately broke up in 1938. Bill quickly took the opportunity to form another musical band the Blue Grass Boys. After the successful 1939 audition with the Grand Ole Opry, Bill Monroe and his group gained household success among country fans spanning 30 states because of the popularity of his radio broadcasts. The Original Bluegrass Band was formed in 1945 with the addition of two members – Lester Flatt on guitar and Earl Scruggs on the banjo. This truly rounded out the band’s music and made Bill Monroe’s mandolin and tenor voice shine through. Together, the band recorded several successful records under the label of Columbia Records. Among these is Blue Moon Kentucky which was successfully revived by Elvis Presley in 1954. Even though Scruggs and Flatt left the band in the 1940s, Bill Monroe continued producing songs that quickly became classics in the bluegrass genre. His efforts and passion as a country musician earned him the title of being the founder of his music. Monroe also organized festivals for lovers of Bluegrass and the first of which was the 1967 Big Blue Grass Celebration. The festival became an annual celebration that attracts thousands of bluegrass fans every year.