November 9 Remembering George D. Hay

Remembering George D. Hay the “Solemn Old Judge” (November 9, 1895 – May 8, 1968) was an American radio personality. He was the founder of the original Grand Ole Opry radio program on WSM-AM in Nashville, Tennessee, from which the country music stage show of the same name evolved. The show was originally named WSM Barn Dance, and Hay billed himself as “The Solemn Old Judge.” The Barn Dance was broadcast after NBC’s Music Appreciation Hour, a program featuring classical music and grand opera. One day in December 1927, the final music piece on the Music Appreciation Hour depicted the sound of a rushing locomotive. After the show ended, “Judge Hay” opened theWSM Barn Dance with this announcement:
“ Friends, the program which just came to a close was devoted to the classics. Doctor Damrosch [host of the program] told us that there is no place in the classics for realism. However, from here on out for the next three hours, we will present nothing but realism. It will be down to earth for the ‘earthy’. ”
Hay then introduced the man he dubbed “The Harmonica Wizard,” DeFord Bailey, who played his classic train song, “The Pan American Blues,” named for the crack Louisville and Nashville Railroad passenger train The Pan-American. After Bailey’s performance, Hay commented, “For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on we will present the Grand Ole Opry.

About the author

I enjoy researching Bluegrass, Bluegrass Gospel, and Country birthdays, anniversaries and interesting trivia dates. I am a piano/organ performance major who has taught privately and served as church accompanist since 1968 in North Carolina and Central Kentucky. Although classically trained, I appreciate all genres of music. My mother, who was also a church musician and taught public school music grades K-12, knew that Bluegrass music was the purest American music. She always introduced her students to this fine genre and began my musical studies with her at age 2. Bach to Berachah Valley, Mozart to Jimmy Martin, Sibelius to Stanley Brothers, the list goes on, I hope you find some moments of enjoyment and learn a few interesting facts along the way.
I am thankful for the many resources we have at our fingertips including Google. FaceBook and BluegrassBios by Wayne Rice. It was he who inspired me to tackle the task of trying to pass on knowledge about Bluegrass music. Thanks Wayne~!
Lou Ellen Wilkie

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