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Tennessee's Music


Tennessee's Music
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 4
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    instantly, entertainer, musical, home, powerful, radio, great, doing, country, personal, crowd, grand, through, different, life, send
     content words:    Ole Opry, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Randy Travis, Hank Williams, Beale Street Blues, Memphis Blues, Elvis Presley


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Tennessee's Music
By Jan Nixon
  

1     Tennessee is home to three great musical traditions: country, blues, and rock and roll. All of these styles began the same way; the musicians played for their families and friends and also to please themselves. In the 1920's, when radios were new, radio stations in Nashville asked Tennessee musicians to send in music they had written and recorded. They sent their music in and called it "country" because that was where it came from - the country. The songs on the radio were a hit! One country radio show became more popular than all the others; it was called the "Grand Ole Opry" and is still very popular today.
 
2     Tennessee's country singers were Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Randy Travis, and Hank Williams. They sang songs about their personal lives and what it was like to live in the country. People in Tennessee could relate to their lyrics and tunes. Country music was born and ready to be shared with everyone. Soon, they recorded their music in Nashville and toured around the country, singing and playing.
 
3     W.C. Handy was born in 1873 in a black community near Memphis. He started blues music because he wanted to write songs about the lives of the blacks at that time. He instantly became famous. In 1909, he wrote a blues song for E. H. Crump who was running for mayor for Memphis. Crump did win, and the crowd was so overwhelmed that they started dancing in the streets to Handy's music. W.C. Handy later wrote many other famous blues songs, such as "Beale Street Blues" and "Memphis Blues." He became known as the Father of the Blues.

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