Music of the United States
Local music
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The Music of Kentucky is heavily centered on Appalachian folk music and its descendants, especially in eastern Kentucky. Bluegrass music is of particular regional importance; Bill Monroe, "the father of bluegrass music", was born in the Ohio County community of Rosine, and he named his band, the Blue Grass Boys, after the bluegrass state, i.e., Kentucky. Kentucky is home to the Country Music Highway (Highway 23), which extends from Portsmouth to the Virginia border in Pike County [1].

Other musicians from Kentucky include:

Lionel Hampton with President George W. Bush

Music venues and institutions[]

Major music venues in Kentucky include the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland. There is also Sturgill's Music Center in Tom T. Hall's hometown of Olive Hill. Just south of Olive Hill is Sandy Hook, the boyhood home of Keith Whitley, whose house is now a museum, exhibited in conjunction with the annual Tobacco Festival. The Kentucky Opry in Prestonsburg is a major institution, using the Mountain Arts Center. Louisville is home to the West Point Country Opry, while the city of Owensboro is a major bluegrass center, and is home to the International Bluegrass Music Association [2].

Ricky Skaggs


Singers gather annually at Benton on the fourth Sunday in May to sing from a shape note hymn and tune book called The Southern Harmony, and Musical Companion. This event, first organized in 1884 and called The Big Singing or Big Singing Day, is considered by many to be the oldest indigenous musical tradition in the United States. It was organized by James Roberts Lemon, a newspaper owner and publisher in western Kentucky.

Ashland is also home to the Summer Motion festival and Poage Landing Days, while Olive Hill also hosts the International Strange Music Weekend and the Shriner's Bluegrass Festival. The Renfro Valley Barn Dance has been held in Renfro Valley since 1939. Owensboro has ROMP (River Of Music Party) the last part of June every year. Other festivals include the Forkland Heritage Festival and Revue in Gravel Switch [3].

Lexington is host to the oldest bluegrass music festival in the state. The Festival of the Bluegrass is held every June at the Kentucky Horse Park and considered one of the premier traditional bluegrass festivals in the country.


In the 1830s, a Great Awakening of fervent Christianity began, leading to popular spiritual song traditions. During this period, the country was undergoing a religious revival that was centered on itinerant preachers called circuit riders, and outdoor worship gatherings (camp meetings) where hymns (camp songs) were sung. Earlier in the century, the first camp meeting was held in July 1800 in Logan County. In 1801, a meeting in Cane Ridge in Bourbon County lasted for six days and attracted ten to twenty thousand people [4].

In 1916, Loraine Wyman and Howard Brockway collected Kentucky folk music which they published in two folios:

  • Lonesome Tunes: Folk Songs from the Kentucky Mountains (1917, New York)
  • Twenty Kentucky Mountain Songs (1920, Boston).


  • Chase, Gilbert (2000). America's Music: From the Pilgrims to the Present. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-00454-X. 


  1. ^ Byron, pg. 69
  2. ^ Byron, pgs. 69-101
  3. ^ Byron, pgs. 69-101
  4. ^ Chase, pg. 144
This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Music of Kentucky. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.