American Roots Music Timeline

  • Period: to

    American roots music timeline

    American roots music over time.
  • Fisk Jubilee

    1871 The Fisk Jubilee Singers begin touring America performing their spirituals for white audiences.
  • Indian

    1890 Jessie Walter Fewkes records the Passamaquoddy Indians off the coast of Maine. This is the first field use of the newly-invented recording machine.
  • African

    1904 The St. Louis World’s Fair, the largest of its kind to date, features “human dioramas” introducing the music of Africa, the Phillippines and Native American cultures to a mass audience.
  • Country

    1910 Song archivist John Lomax publishes his first book, Cowboy Songs and Frontier Ballads, consisting of songs he gathered traveling through Texas, including “Home on the Range.”
  • Fiddler

    1925 Nashville fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson performs a collection of his favorite songs on Nashville radio station WSM. Two years later George D. Hay renames the show “The Grand Old Opry.”
  • Blues

    1936 Delta blues giant Robert Johnson’s first recording sessions take place in San Antonio for Vocalion, yielding such seminal tracks as “Cross Road Blues,” “Terraplane Blues” and “Kind Hearted Woman Blues.”
  • Bluegrass

    1946 The banjo hits it big when Bill Monroe adds banjo player Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt to his band, creating the bluegrass sound.
  • Honkey-tonk

    1949 Honky-tonk country artist Hank Williams debuts at the Grand Ole Opry, performing “Lovesick Blues.”
  • Folk

    1952 Folkways Records releases the 6-volume Anthology of American Folk Music, compiled by Harry Smith, which becomes a bible for folk music revivalists.
  • Jazz

    1969 The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival becomes one of the most important roots music showcases in the world.