Monday, April 21, 2014

Bradley Kincaid's Favorite Mountain Ballads

Bradley Kincaid was born in Point Leavell, KY and I have the post card to prove it. But built his music career in the northern states. His first radio appearance came in 1926 when he performed on the National Barn Dance show on WLS-AM in Chicago, IL. Kincaid was born in 1895 so he was already 31 when he first stood facing the microphone at WLS-AM. So lets back up so we can have a little continuity here.

At the age of 14 his father gave him a guitar that he got in trade for a fox hound. That has got to be the best story in the history of country music. At the age of 19 he entered the Berea College Foundation School as a sixth-grader but left less than 2 years later to fight in WWI. After the war he resumed his education at Berea and graduated from the academy in 1921 at the age of 26.  He then moved to Chicago to attend Y.M.C.A. College. It's now known as George Williams College. There he joined a singing quartet which led to his famous 1928 solo audition for the National Barn Dance.
Throughout that time he collected folk songs. It was his passion. In addition to collecting song books he wrote country songs and his song books sold big time. His 1928 songbook called My Favorite Mountain Ballads sold more than 400,000 copies. He spent 4 years on WLS and paired up with Louis Marshall “Grandpa” Jones. He went onto play at WBZ-AM in Boston, at WHAM in Rochester in 1939, WLW in Cincinnati in 1941, and on WKRC-AM, with Cowboy Copas on the Cornhuskers Jamboree in 1945.

His last major radio gig was a stretch on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville from 1942-1947 on WSM-AM. He did continue to perform but less and less on radio. He was mostly retired by the 60s but continued to record into the 1970s. In 1971, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He died in 1989. His papers reside at Berea College. More here.