About the Birthplace of Country Music
The mountains of southern Appalachia have long been recognized as a breeding ground for traditional music. The earliest settlers brought their instruments and musical traditions, which were fused together to form country, blues, folk, and other styles of popular American music.
In 1927, Ralph Peer – a record executive from Victor Talking Machine Company in Camden, New Jersey – traveled to Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia to find the makers of “hillbilly” music. He set up a portable recording studio in the Taylor-Christian Hat Company building on State Street, advertised for auditions, and waited for the music makers to come to him. Over the course of two weeks, Peer recorded 76 songs by 19 different acts, including Ernest V. Stoneman with various friends and family, The Carter Family, known as “The First Family of Country Music,” and “The Father of Country Music,” Jimmie Rodgers. It was with these recordings that the foundation of country music was laid and its soundtrack begins.
These recordings met with commercial success and continue to influence musicians today, and in 2002, the Library of Congress ranked the 1927 Bristol Sessions among the 50 most significant sound recording events of all time. Johnny Cash said that “these recordings in Bristol in 1927 are the single most important event in the history of country music.”
The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) was established to preserve and promote the rich music heritage of our region. This grassroots organization was first formed through the cooperation of civic, educational, tourist, governmental, and music-related interests on April 7, 1994; it became a nonprofit in 1996. In 1998, the US Congress passed a bill that officially recognized Bristol as the Birthplace of Country Music.
The Birthplace of Country Music promotes and celebrates Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia as the birthplace of country music. BCM celebrates Bristol’s role in the birth and development of country music through the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, WBCM Radio Bristol, and educational outreach and programming.