Monroe, Bill

Monroe, Bill

(William Smith Monroe), 1911–96, country singer, musician, and songwriter, often called the "father of bluegrass," b. Rosine, Ky. A mandolin and guitar player, Monroe founded the Blue Grass Boys in 1938, and the group began playing country and western musiccountry and western music,
American popular music form originating in the Southeast (country music) and the Southwest and West (western music). The two regional styles coalesced in the 1920s when recorded material became available in rural areas, and they were further
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 that mixed rural string-playing, folk ballads, blues, and white gospel–a style later known as bluegrass. Featuring Monroe's high tenor voice and virtuoso mandolin along with the fiddle, bass, guitar, and banjo, the band became known for its beautiful harmonies and driving rhythms. From 1945 on the group made a series of popular recordings, including "New Muleskinner Blues" and "Kentucky Waltz." Monroe's own songs include "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and "I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling." He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.


See biography by R. D. Smith (2000); N. V. Rosenberg, Bluegrass: A History (1985); Rooney, J., Bossmen: Bill Monroe and Muddy Waters (1991); T. Ewing, ed., The Bill Monroe Reader (2000); The Music of Bill Monroe: From 1936 to 1994 (4 CDs, 1994); High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music (documentary film, 1994).

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Monroe, (William Smith) Bill

(1911–  ) country music singer, mandolin player; born near Rosine, Ky. He played with his uncle, Pen Vandiver, and other local musicians before moving to Chicago in 1929. In 1932, he joined an exhibition square dance team sponsored by radio station WLS, and between 1934 and 1938, he and his brother Charlie Monroe gained national popularity as hillbilly radio singers. In 1938 he formed the Blue Grass Boys and the following year he joined the Grand Ole Opry. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, he made numerous hit recordings of instrumentals, religious, and secular songs. His innovative string-band style became known as bluegrass music in the mid-1950s, and in the 1960s he was a central figure in the establishment of bluegrass festivals nationwide. Among his songs, "Uncle Pen" is a country music classic, and "Blue Moon of Kentucky" was recorded by Elvis Presley for his first release in 1954. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970, and he was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1981.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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