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Your evening longread: The unsung black musician who changed Country music

We bring you an interesting longread each evening to take your mind off the news.

Image: Shutterstock/Tancha

EVERY WEEK, WE bring you a round-up of the best longreads of the past seven days in Sitdown Sunday.

And now, every weeknight, we bring you an evening longread to enjoy which will help you to escape the news cycle. 

We’ll be keeping an eye on new longreads and digging back into the archives for some classics.

DeFord Bailey

The story of DeFord Bailey, a black musician who made his debut in 1936, and helped to change Country music. But he was not recognised for his work during his lifetime.

(Narratively, approx 12 mins reading time)

When he brought the harmonica to his mouth, he played a tune that sounded like the bold whistle of a locomotive train. For 15 minutes, he played a unique blend of country music and blues, bringing smiles to the eyes of the people in the dusty old tabernacle. Aside from his obvious talent and innovative harmonica technique, Bailey broke cultural barriers by becoming the first black country music star, and he was one of the most beloved Opry musicians of his time. He played harmonica for the Grand Ole Opry from 1925 to 1941, and toured the country with his white Opry peers during the heyday of Jim Crow. Yet it would be decades before Bailey’s pioneering contributions to country music were widely recognized — and the accomplished musician died penniless.

Read all the Evening Longreads here> 

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