Bill Malone speaks at the International Conference on Country Music, Nashville, 2008. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber
Bill Malone, the author of the seminal resource "Country Music USA" discusses his work as a historian of country music. Malone was this year’s recipient of the Charlie Poole Music Festival Lifetime Achievement Award.
Malone completed his studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He was studying history and said his work was controversial at the time. “While I was doing this, I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “Nobody was doing anything like this at the time. There were very few studies in popular culture, and history was one of the most conservative disciplines. Country music was also commercial, and commercial was a bad word in academia.”Scholars believed the only music worth studying and preserving was the music done in homes and churches with no commercial intent, Malone told the audience. He also said he wanted to prove through his work that old records that came out in the 1920s and 1930s were repositories of folklore and worth preserving and studying.Piedmont Folk Legacies the organization that runs the annual Charlie Poole Music Festival and the forthcoming National Banjo Museum and Center in Eden, North Carolina. He is a four time Grammy award nominee, his first in 1990 for “Partisans of Vilna” the first Yiddish recording to be nominated for a Grammy, two for his 2005 production of "You Ain't Talkin' To Me: Charlie Poole and the Roots of American Country Music" for Sony Columbia/Legacy and again in 2008 for his co-production of the 3 CD anthology "People Take Warning! Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs 1913-1938." His most recent CD anthology “Ernest Stoneman: The Unsung Father of Country Music” was nominated for a 2009 Grammy for Best Historical Notes.
Sapoznik recently was artist in residence at the University of Wisconsin and will take up a position there next year as director of the new Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture.