Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

History

Advisor

Anderson, Paul C

Committee Member

ANDREW , ROD

Committee Member

GRUBB , ALAN

Abstract

As the twentieth century progressed with radio and communications technology, the culture of the Appalachian mountains became an unexplored resource of vast cultural proportions. The Old Regular Baptist faith of the mountains had influenced creative thinkers in the area for generations, and the coming of settlement schools brought secular evaluation from outside the culture. As the people living in the mountains began to understand the uniqueness of their musical heritage, radio technology was becoming available on a much larger scale than ever before. Singers and songwriters from the mountains found eager audiences on a national level.
One of these musicians was Bill Lowe, of Pike County, Kentucky. His early experiences with music clashed with his family's belief system and he found himself caught up in the contradictions of southern spirituality. Despite these conflicts, he began a professional recording and performing career and embodied the values and traditions of rural Appalachian music for a national audience. This study will investigate the effects of the religious culture of the Appalachian mountains, as well as the effects of secular forces within the region. Bill Lowe will serve as an example of how these factors appeared as part of the larger national culture.
Using the author's interviews with Bill Lowe, as well as secondary sources regarding his life in the Kentucky hills, this study will consider these elements in correlation with authentic recordings of this music. Thus, elements of religion, exchange with the outside culture, and radio will be traceable in the music itself.

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