DeFord Bailey, 1899-1982
DeFord Bailey was the first performer — and the first African-American — to be introduced on the Grand Ole Opry. With a career spanning 1926-1941, he was one of the Opry’s most popular performers of the era. Born in Smith County, Tennessee, he played many instruments and is best known for his mesmerizing harmonica tunes, which earned him the title of “The Harmonica Wizard.” His signature tune, “The Pan American Blues,” named after the Louisville and Nashville Railroad’s Pan American, was the first recording of a blues harmonica solo. Deford Bailey was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame® in 2005.
Archival prints of the original artwork are available in my etsy shop!