Contributions of Black Creators Shaped Classic Country Music

Read about Charley Pride, Ray Charles, DeFord Bailey, Aaron Neville, and more.

Black creators were helping shape country music long before it had a name, whether it was introducing the banjo to America, building a corpus of gospel songs that rang down through the centuries, or spreading musical styles too alluring for white musicians not to copy or build on. Today their contributions surface in every aspect of the music.

The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, the two acts generally regarded as the founders of commercial country music through their recordings at the fabled Bristol Sessions in 1927, both owed much of their popularity to black influencers.

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