Jimmie Rodgers

September 8, 1897 – May 26, 1933

“The Singing Brakeman”
“The Blue Yodeler”
“The Father of Country Music”

Jimmie Rodgers learned to play music at a very young age. His father, a railway foreman, tried to deter young Jimmie’s wont to become a traveling entertainer by getting him a job at the railyard. Jimmie spent his rail days learning to better play guitar from other workers and passing hobos…as one does. The urge to travel and play never left him and when tuberculosis ended his railroad career at the age of 27, it was all the confirmation Jimmie needed to take a real shot at being a musician.

He traveled the south from Arizona to Florida, eventually landing in Asheville, North Carolina where he regularly performed on a brand new radio station – the first in North Carolina. He put together a band and was eventually able to find some interest in the fledgling recording industry. His first sessions for Victor (soon to become “RCA Victor”) in Tennessee led to more recordings in the company’s main studio in New Jersey. In his first Jersey session, Rodgers recorded “Blue Yodel #1,” which went on to sell a half a million copies, cementing Jimmie as a star. He continued to record and tour during the Great Depression and used the radio play and live shows to help lay the foundation for what would become a massive genre swell in popular music: Country and Western. Rodgers recorded more than 100 songs in his relatively short, legendary career. His use of the Swiss yodel in his songs would become, not only his signature, but also a defining trait of Country and Western music to follow. He spawned generations of genre-spanning artists and was one of the three inaugural inductees in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Recording and playing music ended up not being any easier on his health than rail work. He worked and played as long as he could, but the tuberculosis caught up with him and he died in a New York hotel room at the age of just 35.

Burial

Oak Grove Baptist Cemetery – Meridian, MS

Specific Location

Along the road. Look for the Historical Marker sign designating the RODGERS plot.

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