Bluegrass music’s roots can be traced all the way back to the early 1600’s by the immigrants that came to America. This can partially be attributed to the ballads and dance music from countries such as England, Ireland and Scotland. Also, a part of the roots of bluegrass music can be traced back to African American gospel music and blues. Another interesting finding is that the banjo, which is a commonplace in bluegrass music, originated in Africa.
It has been told that as the settlers of Jamestown began to migrate outward, that they created new songs about their experiences in the new land and about their day-to-day living. Being as these settlers were living in the rural areas, the songs that they created were a reflection of life in the hills and on the farm. For this reason, the type of music that they had created became known as “country” or “mountain” music.
By the early 1900’s, with the invention of the phonograph and then monroe roofing contractor radio, this type of music was no longer just concentrated in the southern mountains. It was now heard by people all across the United States. By now, vocal talent had become an important factor in this form of music. Singers such as Jimmie Rodgers, the duet team of the Monroe Brothers and the Carter Family had a substantial effect on the advancement of country music.
During the 1920’s, the Monroe Brothers were a very popular duet. Bill Monroe played mandolin while his brother, Charlie, played guitar. In 1938, the brothers would split up and go on to form their own separate bands.
Bill Monroe was a native of the Kentucky. Kentucky is known as the Bluegrass State. Monroe, wanting people to know where he was from, decided on calling his band “Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.” This band would make it’s first appearance in 1939 on the Grand Ole Opry and became one of the most popular bands out of the WSM studios in Nashville, TN. Monroe would become known as the “Father of Bluegrass Music.”
The bluegrass music band of Bill Monroe had a different twist to it as compared to the other traditional country music bands of that era. Monroe put a unique spin on his style of music with the very distinctive vocals and hard-driving energy from the traditional acoustic instruments. Many bluegrass music songs are derived from other genres of music; anything from jazz to blues to gospel.
After the experimentation with various instruments, Bill Monroe decided on using guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass and banjo in the traditional 5-piece band. The vocal selections included duet, trio and quartet harmony; along with the powerful solo lead singing of Monroe. This is commonly known as the “High Lonesome Sound.” The acoustic bass, fiddle and mandolin all originated in Italy while the guitar originally came from Spain.