James Brown

ca. 1933-2006

Ida Cox

1894-1967

Pete Drake

1932-1988

Lena Horne

1917-2010

Jerry Reed

1937-2008

Joe South

1940-2012

Usher

b. 1978

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Explore Georgia’s rich music history

From blues and soul to classical and country—our Spotify playlists feature 130+ songs written and performed by Georgians.

Blind Tom Wiggins

Blind Tom Wiggins

Thomas "Blind Tom" Wiggins, pictured circa 1880, was a musical prodigy. He was born into slave status in Columbus and spent most of his life performing on the piano for audiences around the country. He also wrote original compositions, including the famous "Battle of Manassas."

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Blind Tom Wiggins

Blind Tom Wiggins

Thomas "Blind Tom" Wiggins, pictured circa 1860 at about the age of ten, was born into slave status in Columbus. He was recognized as a musical prodigy by his owner, James Bethune, and was hired out as a child to traveling showman Perry Oliver. During the presidency of James Buchanan (1857-61), Blind Tom became the first African American musician to perform at the White House.

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Joe South

Joe South

Musician Joe South created the country soul genre in the 1960s. His songs were performed by major country and rock-and-roll singers and groups in the 1960s and 1970s.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Joe South

Joe South

Songwriter and musician Joe South won two Grammy Awards for his hit song "Games People Play" in 1969. While working as a studio musician in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and Nashville, Tennessee, South also played on recordings by such legendary performers as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Marty Robbins, and Simon and Garfunkel.

Image from Capitol Records

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South, Lowery, and Roe

South, Lowery, and Roe

Bill Lowery (center), a legend of the Atlanta popular music scene, stands with Joe South (left) and Tommy Roe. Lowery managed the career of South, an Atlanta songwriter and singer, during the 1960s and 1970s. Roe, also an Atlanta native, recorded the hit song "Dizzy" (1969), which was published by the Lowery Music Company.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Hovie Lister and the Statesmen

Hovie Lister and the Statesmen

The Statesmen were a renowned gospel group formed in 1948 by Hovie Lister. Over the years the lineup of the group changed many times. Pictured is the last configuration of the performers. Seated left to right, Jack Toney (lead), Hovie Lister (pianist), and Wallace Nelms (tenor); standing left to right, Doug Young (bass) and Rick Fair (baritone).

James Moody

James Moody

Savannah-born James Moody was one of the early innovators of bebop. The jazz saxophonist, composer, and band leader recorded more than fifty albums.

The Blues and Other Colors

The Blues and Other Colors

The jazz saxophonist and composer James Moody performed "Savannah Calling" on his 1969 album The Blues and Other Colors. Moody was born in Savannah in 1925.

James Moody

James Moody

Jazz musician James Moody, a native of Savannah, performs in 2007 at his eighty-second birthday celebration, held in New York City.

Photograph by Ned Radinsky. Courtesy of rockymountainjazz.com

Dottie Peoples

Dottie Peoples

Traditional gospel singer and songwriter Dottie Peoples is also a record producer and the host of the radio show The Dottie Peoples Showcase.

Photograph from Dottie Peoples

Babbie Mason

Babbie Mason

Babbie Mason is an award-winning contemporary Christian singer and songwriter. She also hosts her own television talk show, Babbie's House, and teaches songwriting at Atlanta Christian College.

Courtesy of Babbie Mason

Precious Bryant

Precious Bryant

Blues musician Precious Bryant performs at the Atlanta History Center Blues Festival. Born in Talbot County in 1942, Bryant learned to play guitar as a child and began performing publicly in the 1960s.

Precious Bryant

Precious Bryant

Precious Bryant was a country blues singer and guitarist from Talbot County. Although folklorist George Mitchell recorded Bryant in the late 1960s, her first album, Fool Me Good, was not released until 2002.

Lee Roy Abernathy

Lee Roy Abernathy

Southern gospel music songwriter and performer Lee Roy Abernathy was an innovator. He invented a music typesetting system, pioneered the use of public address systems in gospel concerts, and wrote the first singing commercials.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Larry Jon Wilson

Larry Jon Wilson

Larry Jon Wilson, an Augusta-based singer, songwriter, and composer, began his musical career in 1975 with the release of his first album, New Beginnings. His work is described by critics as a blend of country, soul, and folk.

Courtesy of Larry Jon Wilson

Larry Jon Wilson

Larry Jon Wilson

Georgia singer, songwriter Larry Jon Wilson with his guitar. WIlson's released his first album in 1975 and released six more before his death in 2010.

Courtesy of Larry Jon Wilson

Larry Jon Wilson

Larry Jon Wilson

Singer, Songwriter Larry Jon Wilson performing on stage. Wilson taught himself to play the guitar at age thirty and soon transferred from a career in chemistry to one in music.

Courtesy of Larry Jon Wilson 

Bill Lowery

Bill Lowery

Bill Lowery began his career in Atlanta as a disc jockey and broadcaster for Georgia Tech football games at radio station WGST in 1948. His weekly programs at the station included Musical Tune and Uncle Ebenezer Brown.

Bill Lowery

Bill Lowery

Bill Lowery, pictured in 1969, poses at Bill Lowery Enterprises, which included the Lowery Music Company and the National Recording Corporation. Lowery, known as "Mr. Atlanta Music," was a prominent disc jockey, producer, manager, and music publisher in the city from 1948 until his death in 2004. He was one of the first two inductees into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, which he also helped to establish.

Ludacris

Ludacris

The rap musician Ludacris poses in 2003 outside the Def Jam South offices in Midtown Atlanta. Ludacris signed with Def Jam in 2000 and later that year released the album Back for the First Time, which contained his first national hit, "What's Your Fantasy?"

Ludacris

Ludacris

Ludacris, a rapper in the "Dirty South" style, performs during the 2005 Vibe Music Festival at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Ludacris began his career as a disc jockey in Atlanta and relased his first album, Incognegro, in 2000. The following year he established the Ludacris Foundation for underprivileged children in Atlanta.

Usher

Usher

Usher, a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, began his recording career in 1994 with Atlanta-based LaFace Records. In 2001 the artist received two Grammy awards. Usher has also starred in several feature films.

Travis Tritt

Travis Tritt

Country musician Travis Tritt performs at the Country Fair 2000 in his hometown of Marietta. That year, Tritt released Down the Road I Go, his eighth new album and the first with Columbia Records.

Color photograph of Travis Tritt

Travis Tritt

Travis Tritt, a native of Marietta, is a Grammy Award-winning country musician and member of the Grand Ole Opry. In 1999 he was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Tritt's platinum-selling albums include Country Club (1990), It's All about to Change (1991), and T-R-O-U-B-L-E (1994).

It’s All about to Change (1991)

It’s All about to Change (1991)

Travis Tritt's second album, It's All about to Change, was released in 1991 and features the hit songs "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'" and "Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)." Upon the album's success, Tritt was presented the Horizon Award by the Country Music Association.

Chuck Leavell

Chuck Leavell

Chuck Leavell stands among the longleaf pines on Charlane Plantation, his timber farm and hunting preserve in Twiggs County. Leavell and his wife, Rose, have received state and national awards recognizing their efforts in conservation.

Chuck Leavell

Chuck Leavell

Pianist Chuck Leavell, a resident of Twiggs County since the early 1980s, has played with such notable acts as the Allman Brothers Band and the Rolling Stones. Inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2004, Leavell has also released several solo albums.

Alex Cooley

Alex Cooley

Alex Cooley, pictured in 1978, owned and operated a number of the best-known rock venues in Atlanta, including Alex Cooley's Electric Ballroom and the Tabernacle. In 1987 Cooley was inducted as a nonperformer into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

Alex Cooley

Alex Cooley

Alex Cooley gives an interview to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1998. Cooley became a concert promoter during the late 1960s and founded the city's Midtown Music Festival in 1994.

Francine Reed

Francine Reed

Francine Reed performs at Music Midtown, an annual festival in Atlanta begun in 1990s. A native of Illinois, Reed became known as Atlanta's "queen of the blues" following her move to Georgia in the early 1990s.

I Want You To Love Me (1995)

I Want You To Love Me (1995)

I Want You to Love Me (1995), the first solo album of Atlanta blues singer Francine Reed, features the duet "Why Don't I Know" with country musician Lyle Lovett. The album also contains a recording of Reed's trademark song, "Wild Women (Don't Get the Blues)."

Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra

Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra

Fletcher Henderson, a native of Randolph County, formed the first big band orchestra around 1920 in New York City. In 1921 Fletcher's orchestra began making records, and the group played at the Roseland Ballroom in New York for the rest of the decade.

Fletcher Henderson

Fletcher Henderson

Fletcher Henderson, an accomplished pianist and native of Cuthbert, is credited with forming the first big band orchestra in New York City during the 1920s. His musical contributions laid the foundation for swing music.

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Fletcher Henderson

Fletcher Henderson

Although trained as a chemist at Atlanta University, Fletcher Henderson was unable to find work in his field. He turned to music instead and became one of the most respected swing bandleaders and arrangers of the 1920s.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Chet Atkins

Chet Atkins

A publicity photo of Chet Atkins, a famed country music star credited with increasing country music's mainstream popularity.  He won more than a dozen Grammy awards over his lifetime, and was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1995.

Copyright 1997 SonyMusic Entertainment Inc.

Willie Lee Perryman

Willie Lee Perryman

Willie Lee, or "Piano Red," Perryman was a blues pianist who played in the barrelhouse style. His professional music career began in the early 1930s and continued until the late 1960s.

Photograph from booklet "Piano Red, Dr. Feelgood," by Norbert Hess

Blind Willie McTell

Blind Willie McTell

Blind Willie McTell, a native of Thomson, was a great blues musician of the 1920s and 1930s. Based in Atlanta, he displayed an extraordinary range on the twelve-string guitar.

First Piece of the Rock (1983)

First Piece of the Rock (1983)

First Piece of the Rock was released in 1983 as a tribute to Willie Lee Perryman, a blues musician known as "Piano Red" for much of his career. Two of Perryman's songs, "Rockin' with Red" and "Red's Boogie," were recorded in Atlanta in 1950 and made the national charts.

Print by Mike McCarty. Courtesy of Lowery Group

Dr. Feelgood and the Interns

Dr. Feelgood and the Interns

Willie Lee Perryman, a blues pianist, created the Dr. Feelgood persona for his WAOK radio show, and he performed under the name with his band, the Interns. From left, Perryman, Curtis Smith, Bobby Lee Tuggle, Roy Lee Johnson, Beverly Watkins, and Howard Hobbs.

Photograph from booklet "Piano Red, Dr. Feelgood," by Norbert Hess

Dr. Feelgood and the Interns

Dr. Feelgood and the Interns

Willie Lee Perryman, also known as "Dr. Feelgood," poses in the early 1960s with his band, the Interns.

Photograph from booklet "Piano Red, Dr. Feelgood," by Norbert Hess

Duane Allman

Duane Allman

Duane Allman was the guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, which he formed with his younger brother, Gregg, in 1969. The band released its first album on Capricorn Records, a label based in Macon. Allman died in 1971 after being injured in a motorcycle accident.

Duane Allman: An Anthology

Duane Allman: An Anthology

The year after guitarist Duane Allman's death in Macon, Capricorn Records released the double-album collection Duane Allman: An Anthology (1972). Allman was an original member of the successful Macon-based Allman Brothers Band.

Lena Horne

Lena Horne

Lena Horne, an acclaimed entertainer and civil rights activist, is pictured in a 1946 publicity still for Till the Clouds Roll By. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Horne spent part of her childhood in both Fort Valley and Atlanta before beginning her career in New York at the age of sixteen. In 1984 she received the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the performing arts.

Image from Wikimedia

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Harry James

Harry James

Harry James, a renowned swing trumpet player during the 1930s and 1940s, rehearses for the Coca-Cola radio show in New York City around 1946. James was born in Albany to traveling circus performers and began playing the trumpet as a child.

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Music Division, William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection.

I’ve Heard That Song Before

I’ve Heard That Song Before

Harry James is pictured on the cover of sheet music for "I've Heard That Song Before," published by Edwin H. Morris and Company. The song, performed with Frank Sinatra on vocals for the film Youth on Parade (1942), was nominated for an Academy Award.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Harry James

Harry James

Pictured in New York circa 1947, Harry James was a renowned trumpet player and band leader. The Albany native played with some of the most prominent performers of the swing era, including Benny Goodman and Connie Haines.

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Music Division, William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection.

Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968)

Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968)

Gram Parsons's work on the album Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968) earned critical success and increased popularity for the Byrds, but it turned out to be the only album Parsons would record with the band.

Gram Parsons

Gram Parsons

Gram Parsons's influence on other musicians stems from his innovative fusion of the country and rock genres. Though he died young in the early 1970s, Parsons left behind a body of work that continues to earn the admiration of contemporary musicians.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Emmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris

Vocalist Emmylou Harris recorded two albums with Gram Parsons: GP (1973) and Grievous Angel (1974). Between the releases of these two records, Harris toured with Parsons's Fallen Angels band.

Photograph copyright Geoff Gibbs

Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield began his career as a professional musician at age sixteen. His longtime affiliation with a vocal group called the Impressions was followed by a series of successful and influential solo projects. Today Mayfield is revered by many for his pioneering work in the soul and funk genres.

Image from Wikimedia

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Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton

Propelled by two chart-climbing singles, Toni Braxton achieved stardom before the release of her first full-length record. When the rhythm-and-blues singer's debut album, Toni Braxton, finally came out in 1993, it sold more than 9 million copies.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Jermaine Dupri

Jermaine Dupri

In his unique career, Jermaine Dupri has been a breakdancer, songwriter, music producer, entrepreneur, rapper, and athletics manager. He has held high-level positions at major record companies, in addition to owning Atlanta-based So So Def Records, and he has produced several music acts that have gone on to sell millions of albums each.

Image from Timothy M. Moore

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Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes, credited with developing the "Memphis soul" sound in the 1960s and 1970s, was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1994. A Tennessee native, Hayes lived in Atlanta from the mid-1970s until 1992.

Courtesy of www.isaachayes.com

Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes, an innovative soul musician, greets onlookers along the red carpet at the 2004 Turner Broadcasting System's Trumpet Awards, held at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta. Hayes began as a rhythm-and-blues musician in Memphis, Tennessee, before establishing himself as a soul musician with the 1969 album Hot Buttered Soul.

Chef

Chef

From 1997 to 2006 Isaac Hayes, a renowned soul musician, provided the voice for Chef, a character on the animated television program South Park. The role introduced Hayes, who established himself in the 1960s and 1970s, to a new audience.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes

Soul musician Isaac Hayes performs in 2003 at Philips Arena (later State Farm Arena) in Atlanta during an NBA All-Star event.

Norman and Nancy Blake

Norman and Nancy Blake

Norman Blake, a highly regarded perfomer of traditional southern music, married musician Nancy Blake in 1972. Since that time, the two have often performed and recorded together.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Norman Blake

Norman Blake

Singer and instrumentalist Norman Blake performs in 2002 at a concert in Huntsville, Alabama. Renowned for his reinterpretations of such southern musical forms as old-time and bluegrass, Blake is prominently featured on the best-selling soundtrack to the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000).

Photograph by Vicki Ramsey

Blake Album Cover

Blake Album Cover

After years as a session musician, old-time and bluegrass musician Norman Blake produced his first solo effort in 1972 with the album Back Home in Sulphur Springs. The album was recorded in Blake's home community of Sulphur Springs in Dade County.

Bumble Bee Slim Easton

Bumble Bee Slim Easton

Bumble Bee Slim Easton, a native of Brunswick, became a prominent blues musician in Chicago, Illinois, where he recorded more than 150 songs during the 1930s.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Ida Cox

Ida Cox

Ida Cox, a Georgia native, began her career as a vaudeville performer. She recorded her first blues songs in 1923 for the Paramount label, which dubbed her the "Uncrowned Queen of the Blues." By 1929, Cox had recorded seventy-eight songs, most of which she had written herself.

Ida Cox and John Hammond

Ida Cox and John Hammond

Ida Cox, a successful blues singer of the 1920s, meets with John Hammond some years after her 1939 performance in his From Spirituals to Swing concert for an integrated audience at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Hammond, a prominent musician and producer, worked throughout the 1930s to integrate the music business.

Blues for Rampart Street (1961)

Blues for Rampart Street (1961)

Ida Cox, a pioneering blues musician prominent during the 1920s, recorded her final album with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins in 1961. The album, entitled Blues for Rampart Street, was recorded at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Don’t Tampa with the Blues

Don’t Tampa with the Blues

Tampa Red Whittaker, a native of Smithville, was a prominent Chicago blues musician during the 1930s and 1940s.

Tampa Red Whittaker

Tampa Red Whittaker

Slide guitarist "Tampa Red" Whittaker, born in Smithville, Georgia, was raised in Tampa, Florida, and became one of the most prominent blues musicians in Chicago, Illinois, during the 1930s and 1940s. Whittaker made several successful recordings with "Georgia Tom" Dorsey, a blues pianist and fellow Georgia native.

From The Story of the Blues, by P. Oliver

Otis Redding

Otis Redding

Otis Redding, a Georgia native, was an influentual rhythm-and-blues and soul musician during the 1960s. Killed in an airplane crash in 1967, Redding was posthumously honored by a statue in Macon, his hometown, and induction into both the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Otis Redding

Otis Redding

Otis Redding, an influential soul musician, began his musical career with "Little Richard" Penniman after dropping out of high school. In 1960 he joined Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers as a vocalist and recorded his first hit song, "These Arms of Mine," for Stax Records in 1962.

Otis Redding

Otis Redding

Although Otis Redding achieved success as a rhythm-and-blues and soul musician during the early 1960s, he did not receive much mainstream attention until the release of his song "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)" in 1965. In 1967 Redding released the crossover hit "Try a Little Tenderness" and was the only soul act to appear at the Monterey Pop Festival in California.

Otis Redding

Otis Redding

Otis Redding, a soul musician whose work influenced such rock acts as the Rolling Stones, achieved his single number-one recording with the release of "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay." The song was released three months after Redding's death in an airplane crash on December 10, 1967.

Otis Redding Stamp

Otis Redding Stamp

The U.S. Postal Service's American Music Series commemorated the life of Georgia soul musician Otis Redding in 1992.

Courtesy of Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Little Richard Penniman

Little Richard Penniman

Little Richard Penniman, known as "the Georgia Peach," claimed to be "the innovator and the architect of rock and roll." From 1956 to 1957 he recorded a string of hits before renouncing show business to enter the seminary. He returned to the stage in 1962 and continued to perform into his seventies. In 1986 Little Richard was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Little Richard Penniman

Little Richard Penniman

Little Richard Penniman, a Macon native, is credited with being one of the first rock stars. He began his musical career as a young boy in a family gospel act, joined a minstrel show at the age of fifteen, and performed rhythm and blues before his 1956 hit "Tutti Fruitti" crossed over to the pop charts.

Photograph by xrayspx

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Robert Shaw

Robert Shaw

Robert Shaw conducted the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra from 1967 to 1988. Credited with building the symphony into a major American orchestra, Shaw received many national and international honors throughout his long career.

Robert Shaw

Robert Shaw

Robert Shaw leads a rehearsal of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, circa 1970.

Courtesy of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Archive

Robert Shaw

Robert Shaw

Robert Shaw conducts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, which gained international renown during his tenure from 1967 to 1988. During this time he also established and directed the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus, as well as the Robert Shaw Institute at Emory University.

Courtesy of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, led by conductor Robert Shaw, is pictured during a performance in 1973. .

Courtesy of Special Collections & Archives, Georgia State University Library, Atlanta Journal-Constitution Photographic Archive.

Beryl Rubinstein

Beryl Rubinstein

Classical pianist and composer Beryl Rubinstein spent much of his career at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he served in a number of capacities, including head of the piano department, dean of faculty, and director of the school. Rubinstein, born in Athens in 1898, returned to Georgia in May 1952 to perform concerts in Athens and Atlanta.

Courtesy of Cleveland Institute of Music

Jessye Norman

Jessye Norman

Jessye Norman, a native of Augusta, was a world-renowned and highly-decorated operatic soprano. In her lifetime, she received more than thirty honorary degrees, won five Grammys, was awarded the French Legion of Honor, and became the youngest recipient of the Kennedy Center Honor at the age of just fifty-one.

Photograph by John Mathew Smith

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Jessye Norman

Jessye Norman

Jessye Norman, an Augusta native, began her career as an opera singer in 1969 with the Deutsche Oper Berlin in Germany. She subsequently performed in Milan, Italy, and London, England, before making her debut at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1983.

Image from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore

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Jessye Norman Amphitheater

Jessye Norman Amphitheater

In 1996 the city of Augusta honored its native daughter Jessye Norman by renaming the Riverwalk Amphitheater as the Jessye Norman Amphitheater.

banjo

banjo

Brenda Lee

Brenda Lee

Brenda Lee began her career as a singer at the age of five and continues to perform into the twenty-first century. A rockabilly performer in her early days, Lee later adopted adult contemporary and country styles. She is the only woman to be inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Image from Bradford Timeline

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Brenda Lee and Elvis Presley

Brenda Lee and Elvis Presley

Rockabilly singer Brenda Lee began performing in the Atlanta area at the age of five. In 1957 she met Elvis Presley for the first time and performed with him in a Grand Ole Opry performance at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Brenda Lee with Dick Clark

Brenda Lee with Dick Clark

Brenda Lee appears with Dick Clark on American Bandstand. Following her success as a child perfomer, Lee grew into a teen idol during the 1960s. Her songs reached the Billboard charts fifty-five times, making Lee the most successful female performer of the decade.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Jerry Reed

Jerry Reed

As a young man, the rockabilly singer Jerry Reed moved from Atlanta to Nashville, Tennessee, to record with Capitol Records from 1955 to 1958. In 1958 he returned to Atlanta and recorded with the National Recording Corporation before joining the army.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Jerry Reed

Jerry Reed

Jerry Reed's long career in the country and pop music industry began in 1955, when he was eighteen years old, and continued into the twenty-first century. In addition to writing and recording his own songs, Reed has worked as a session musician for such artists as Willie Nelson and Elvis Presley and as a producer on his own record label.

Image from SSGT Lee Schading

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Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed

Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed

The rockabilly musician Jerry Reed (right) portrays the character Cledus Snow in the movie Smokey and the Bandit (1977) with Burt Reynolds. The two appeared together in all three films of Smokey and the Bandit the series.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Gladys Knight and the Pips

Gladys Knight and the Pips

Gladys Knight and the Pips formed in 1952 and toured the "Chitlin' Circuit" throughout the 1950s. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the group recorded its biggest hits, including "I Heard It through the Grapevine" (1967) and "Midnight Train to Georgia" (1973).

Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight began her solo career in the late 1980s after reuniting briefly with her family band, the Pips, earlier in the decade.

Image from John Mathew Smith

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Roland Hayes

Roland Hayes

Roland Hayes, the renowned African American tenor, earned international acclaim by singing classical and operatic music on the concert stage. Initially compelled to arrange and promote his own concerts, Hayes eventually became the highest-paid tenor in the world, despite the racial barriers that often excluded African Americans from careers in classical music.

Courtesy of Gordon County Chamber of Commerce

Roland Hayes on Program Cover

Roland Hayes on Program Cover

This image of Roland Hayes, the internationally known African American tenor, appeared on a program for a 1937 concert he gave in New York City. Hayes began his career with the renowned Jubilee Singers at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and performed his final concert over fifty years later at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Courtesy of University of Iowa Libraries, Redpath Chautauqua Collection.

Roland Hayes Concert Program

Roland Hayes Concert Program

Roland Hayes, the famous Black tenor, often incorporated "Aframerican religious folk music," or spirituals, into his classical repertoire, as demonstrated by this 1937 program. Hayes arranged the spirituals, which had been passed down orally from generation to generation, for orchestral accompaniment.

Courtesy of University of Iowa Libraries, Redpath Chautauqua Collection.

Roland Hayes

Roland Hayes

The acclaimed African American tenor Roland Hayes sits in 1954 for a portrait by photographer Carl Van Vechten. Hayes left his home in Georgia in 1948, several years after a violent conflict with a white store owner in Rome, and spent his remaining years in Massachusetts. After retiring from the stage in 1962, Hayes taught and mentored young musicians during his later years.

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, #LC-USZ62-114533.

Georgia Tom Dorsey

Georgia Tom Dorsey

Georgia Tom Dorsey began his career as a blues pianist at the age of twelve in Atlanta. In 1916 Dorsey moved to Chicago, where he assumed the leadership of Gertrude "Ma" Rainey's Wild Cats Jazz Band in 1924 and began recording with "Tampa Red" Whittaker in 1928.

From The Story of the Blues, by P. Oliver

Georgia Tom Dorsey

Georgia Tom Dorsey

Georgia Tom Dorsey became an icon in gospel music during the 1930s and 1940s, working in Chicago with such gospel singers as Mahalia Jackson, Della Reece, and Clara Ward. Dorsey began his career as a blues musician but turned exclusively to spiritual music following the death of his wife in 1932.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Mattiwilda Dobbs

Mattiwilda Dobbs

Mattiwilda Dobbs, an Atlanta native and renowned soprano, performed the role of Olympia in the Metropolitan Opera's 1959 production of The Tales of Hoffman by Jacques Offenbach. Dobbs joined the Metropolitan Opera in 1956 and sang with the company for eight seasons.

Photograph by Louis Melancon

Mattiwilda Dobbs

Mattiwilda Dobbs

Mattiwilda Dobbs poses in 1955 for a portrait by Carl Van Vechten, who photographed many notable artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Dobbs, the daughter of prominent Black activist John Wesley Dobbs, was a native of Atlanta and Spelman College graduate who rose to international fame as an opera diva during the 1950s.

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, #LOT 12735, no. 309.

Mattiwilda Dobbs

Mattiwilda Dobbs

This portrait of opera singer Mattiwilda Dobbs was made in 1955 by the American photographer Carl Van Vechten, who photographed many notable artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Dobbs, the daughter of prominent Black activist John Wesley Dobbs, was a native of Atlanta and Spelman College graduate who rose to international fame as an opera diva during the 1950s. Dobbs performed at opera houses and festivals around the world, but she did not sing before an integrated audience in her home city until 1962.

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, #LOT 12735, no. 306.

Run Little Chillun Poster

Run Little Chillun Poster

The poster, created in the late 1930s, for the Federal Theatre Project presentation of Run Little Chillun at the Savoy Theatre in San Diego, California. Hall Johnson's folk opera opened on Broadway in New York in 1933.

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Work Projects Administration Poster Collection,, #LC-USZC2-5692.

Hall Johnson

Hall Johnson

The musician and composer Hall Johnson on May 14, 1947. Johnson dedicated his career to preserving the integrity of the Negro spiritual.

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, #LC-USZ62-108272.

Knox Institute

Knox Institute

The Knox Institute was founded in 1868 in Athens, which became a center for African American secondary education after the Civil War. Located at the corner of Reese and Pope streets, the prestigious private school offered academic and industrial instruction. The school closed in 1928, and the structure no longer exists.

Wallingford Riegger

Wallingford Riegger

The composer Wallingford Riegger in New York City in the early 1930s. During this period he composed many dance scores for innovative dancers of the time, including Martha Graham.

From Wallingford Riegger: Two Essays in Musical Biography, by S. Spackman

The Riegger Family

The Riegger Family

(Standing left to right) Harold Riegger, Ida Riegger, Constantine Riegger, Wallingford Riegger, with Caroline Riegger (seated) holding Eleanor Riegger (ca. 1903).

From Wallingford Riegger: Two Essays in Musical Biography, by S. Spackman

Howard Swanson

Howard Swanson

Howard Swanson's classical music compositions have been performed by major orchestras and leading singers, including Leontyne Price and Marian Anderson.

Courtesy of the Center for Black Music, Columbia College, Chicago. Photograph by Maurice Seymour, New York

James Brown

James Brown

In May 2005 the city of Augusta honored James Brown with a statue of his likeness. At the unveiling ceremony, the star performed a few of his most popular songs for a crowd of fans. In attendance, standing front and center, was the Reverend Al Sharpton, Brown's former road manager.

James Brown

James Brown

James Brown, known as the "Godfather of Soul" and "Soul Brother Number One," influenced a generation of younger singers with his energetic performances and distinctive vocal style. Active in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Brown continued to speak out about racism during his long career.

James Brown and Aretha Franklin

James Brown and Aretha Franklin

James Brown, pictured with Aretha Franklin, was instrumental in pioneering soul music, a dynamic blend of gospel and rhythm and blues. Two of Brown's singles in 1965, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag-Part 1" and "I Got You (I Feel Good)," were milestones of the genre.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant

Amy Grant is one of contemporary Christian music's most prominent singer-songwriters. She has released more than a dozen albums, won numerous Dove Awards, and had successful crossover albums into the pop music world.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has won several Grammy Awards and performed a song from her album, Heart in Motion (1991), at the Grammy ceremonies in 1992. Grant was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2003.

Photograph by Dave Eagles

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Vic Chesnutt

Vic Chesnutt

Vic Chesnutt performs in 2008 at the 40 Watt Club in Athens.

Courtesy of Mike White | DEADLYDESIGNS.COM

Vic Chesnutt

Vic Chesnutt

Vic Chesnutt, an influential folk-rock musician, spent much of his career in Athens. His first album, Little, was released in 1995 with the assistance of R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, and many of his subsequent albums were made in collaboration with Athens musicians.

Image from [carlo cravero]

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Vic Chesnutt

Vic Chesnutt

Vic Chesnutt, an acclaimed Athens-based musician, produced more than twenty albums over the course of his career. Chesnutt used a wheelchair after being partially paralyzed in a 1983 car accident, when he was eighteen years old.

Image from Todd Kulesza

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Gid Tanner

Gid Tanner

Gid Tanner was one of the most widely recognized names among country music enthusiasts of the 1920s and 1930s. The group that he headed, Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers, was one of the most influential string bands that recorded during the formative years of the country music industry.

Courtesy of Phil Tanner

Moonshine Kate and John Carson

Moonshine Kate and John Carson

Fiddlin' John Carson was frequently accompanied on radio, records, and stage by his daughter Rosa Lee (1909-92), a guitarist, singer, and dancer. Under the pseudonym Moonshine Kate, Rosa Lee established herself as an independent performer, thus becoming a pioneer among women country music performers.

Alfredo Barili

Alfredo Barili

Barili became the first professional concert pianist to make his home in Atlanta when he moved there in 1880. In the fall of 1899 Barili opened his own school of music, which offered instruction in piano, voice, organ, Italian language, music history, and music theory.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Alfredo Barili Family Papers, #ac. 1967-0601M.

Alfredo Barili

Alfredo Barili

In 1880 the Italian-born pianist Alfredo Barili (pictured here in his 30s) became the first professional musician to move to Atlanta, where he played a major role in establishing the foundation upon which the city's vibrant classical music culture is based.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Alfredo Barili Family Papers, #ac. 1967-0601M.

Alfredo Barili

Alfredo Barili

Alfredo Barili (pictured here in his 20s) was one of the most respected teachers and musicians in the South by the time of his death in November 1935.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Alfredo Barili Family Papers, #ac. 1967-0601M.

Pete Drake

Pete Drake

Pete Drake was a record producer, record company founder, and musician whose steel-guitar playing was heard on hundreds of hit recordings. He was one of the most sought-after backup musicians of the 1960s.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Pete Drake

Pete Drake

Pete Drake, a native of Augusta, produced albums for many music stars, including B. J. Thomas, the Four Freshmen, Leon Russell, and Beatles member Ringo Starr. He also founded Stop Records and First Generation Records.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

WSB Barn Dance

WSB Barn Dance

A musical group performs in 1955 for the popular WSB Barn Dance program.

Courtesy of Special Collections & Archives, Georgia State University Library, Lane Brothers Commercial Photographers Photographic Collection.

Riley Puckett

Riley Puckett

Georgia's Riley Puckett was a nationally known pioneer country music artist whose dynamic single-string guitar playing, featuring dramatic bass runs, earned for him an enviable reputation as an instrumentalist.

Courtesy of Juanita McMichen Lynch

Charlie D. Tillman

Charlie D. Tillman

Charlie D. Tillman (photo taken ca. 1930), who called Atlanta home for most of his career, was a pioneer composer, performer, and publisher of southern gospel music. During the almost sixty years that he was involved in the music business, he wrote some one hundred songs and published twenty-two songbooks.

Courtesy of Charles L. Douglas

Tillman Family, ca. 1880

Tillman Family, ca. 1880

Charlie D. Tillman (seated) exhibited early in life a better-than-average talent and inclination for music. His parents were evangelists, and he grew up traveling with them and taking an active role in the musical portion of their services.

Courtesy of Charles L. Douglas

Joe Williams

Joe Williams

Joe Williams is considered by many to be the quintessential male jazz vocalist. Best known for his smooth baritone delivery as the singer for Count Basie's band from 1954 to 1961, the Georgia native also sang with Coleman Hawkins, Lionel Hampton, and Earl Hines, and had a successful solo career.

Image from Brian McMillen

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Fiddlin’ John Carson

Fiddlin’ John Carson

Fiddlin' John Carson, pictured circa 1924, began playing fiddle on Atlanta's WSB radio station in 1922. On June 14, 1923, the country-music recording industry was launched when Carson made his first phonograph record. His recording career, which yielded some 165 recorded songs, lasted into the 1930s.

Photograph by Wilbur Smith

Fiddlin’ John Carson and Gid Tanner

Fiddlin’ John Carson and Gid Tanner

Fiddlin' John Carson and Gid Tanner, both prominent Georgia fiddlers, are pictured circa 1922.

Trisha Yearwood

Trisha Yearwood

Monticello native Trisha Yearwood is well established as one of country music's most popular and appealing female vocalists. Starting with her debut release in 1991, she has amassed an enormous following of listeners who are drawn to her "everywoman" songs of fortitude and vulnerability.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Blind Willie McTell

Blind Willie McTell

Pictured in an Atlanta hotel room in 1940, "Blind Willie" McTell holds a twelve-string guitar. He recorded many blues classics, including "Statesboro Blues." McTell was the only bluesman to remain active in Atlanta (in the Decatur Street district) well after World War II.

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Lomax Collection.

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Blind Willie McTell

Blind Willie McTell

After learning to play guitar in Statesboro, blues musician "Blind Willie" McTell traveled a circuit that included Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah, and Macon during the 1920s and 1930s.

J. M. Henson

J. M. Henson

J. M. Henson was a major contributor to the development of southern gospel music. In 1921 he and a group of other musicians and businessmen formed the Southern Music Plate Company of Atlanta. They published music theory books and songbooks featuring the seven-shape notational system, a staple of vintage southern gospel music.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

New Wings of Song

New Wings of Song

New Wings of Song was one of the many songbooks published by the J. M. Henson Music Company in Atlanta.

Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Georgia Music Hall of Fame Collection.

Andrew Jenkins

Andrew Jenkins

The Reverend Andrew Jenkins of Atlanta (pictured here in 1954) was a leading composer of songs popular among southern gospel singers. He has been credited with more than 800 compositions, of which more than two-thirds are sacred songs.

Courtesy of Mary Lee Eskew Bowen