Vernon Dalhart (1883 – 1948)
(2007 INDUCTEE) VERNON DALHART BEGAN RECORDING FOR STARR PIANO IN NEW YORK. HE RECORDED MANY SIDES FOR STARR PIANO AND GENNETT AND WAS THE BEST SELLING EARLY COUNTRY ARTIST OF THE 1920S.
DONATED IN MEMORY OF FRED GENNETT BY HIS FAMILY.
Vernon Dalhart of Jefferson, Texas, recorded prolifically during the early 20th century. Although he was classically-trained musician, he became an extremely popular singer of “hillbilly” songs. (Early country music was often call “hillbilly” or “old time” music.) Dalhart made his first recordings for the Edison label in 1917, but his 1924 recording for the Victor label of “The Wreck of the Old 97” coupled with “The Prisoner’s Song” became country music’s first million-seller. The success of this recording led Dalhart to continue to record hundreds of hillbilly songs for dozens of labels, often using one of several pseudonyms, and the labels frequently released these recordings under another layer of pseudonyms on a variety of subsidiary labels. As a result, thousands of Dalhart recordings were in circulation during the 1920s, making him the best-selling “hillbilly” artist of the decade. With Kathryn Irving, Dalhart first recorded the popular song, “Till the Clouds Roll By,” for Starr Piano in 1917. It was his first recorded duet and was issued on the green Starr label. He also recorded frequently on Gennett and Gennett subsidiary labels throughout the 1920s. Although Dalhart’s musical influence on the development of country music is considered limited by country music scholars, his popularity in the 1920s helped create a much larger audience for country music, which in turn helped country’s stylistic development.
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