Music in the United States
Music at BMI
music particularly benefited from the changes in the musical
environment, as exposure to country performers in USO tours
and the intermingling of individuals from all regions of the
country in the military introduced many Northerners to a genre
they heretofore ignored or denigrated as "hillbilly" music.
began to report on country record releases in 1942 in its American
Folk Records columns. It began tracking jukebox activity in
1944, retail country charts began in 1948, and radio airplay
charts for country songs were added in 1949. A clear sign of
the public and music industry's acceptance of country music
was Billboard's shift from the term "folk" to "country & western," which
began in 1949.
start, BMI had taken an interest in the country community.
The practice of providing new publishers with advances helped
many firms take off, including Acuff-Rose Publications, headquartered
in Nashville, and Hill and Range Songs, based in New York,
both of which would become titans in the country field. Founded
by Julian and Jean Aberbach in 1943, Hill and Range eventually
became more active in pop and r&b, yet country provided
the foundation for the Aberbachs' expanding publishing empire,
the brothers having set up subsidiary companies for such hitmakers
as Eddy Arnold, Ernest Tubb, and Hank Snow.
begun in 1942, was fully committed to the country field; its
founders were Grand Ole Opry superstar Roy Acuff and veteran
songwriter Fred Rose. Acuff-Rose quickly became one of the
most successful country publishers. Among its most-performed,
most-recorded and best-loved songs is "Tennessee Waltz," penned
by Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King in 1947, a 6 million copy
seller for Patti Page and eventually a state song of Tennessee.
Acuff-Rose's most illustrious artist was Hank Williams, arguably
the greatest singer-songwriter the country field has yet produced.
Before he died in 1953 at the age of 29, his mournful, poetic
brilliance had resulted in such classics as "I'm So Lonesome
I Could Cry," "Honky-Tonkin'," and "Your
Cheatin' Heart." The success of these firms and others
like Jack Stapp's and Buddy Killen's Tree Music and Howie Richmond's
The Richmond Organization was a result of country's assimilation
into the musical mainstream.
BMI, in turn,
benefited from their prescient support of Nashville, for between
1944 and 1954 fully 77 percent of all songs making the Top
10 on Billboard's various country charts were BMI-licensed.
The link between BMI and Nashville was also recognized when
BMI was asked to provide the banquet entertainment for the
1951 annual broadcasters' convention. The show was built around
Nashville entertainers, the first time country music was officially
presented to a national audience of leading broadcasters and
advertising agencies. Later, in 1953, BMI arranged its first
annual awards presentation devoted specifically to country's
writers and publishers, a clear sign that the Nashville connection
was firmly solidified.
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