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Jimmie Rodgers is known to some as the "The Singing Brakeman," to others as "America's Blue Yodeler," but to all as the "Father of Country Music."

Born James Charles Rodgers on September 8th, 1897 in Meridian, Mississippi, Jimmie followed his railway foreman father around everywhere. He lost his mother at the age of four due to tuberculosis. He soon ended up being nearly a nomad with his father, traveling around the Ohio Valley and Alabama with his father, following work. He made his reputation with the men as a hard worker, leading to being hired as a brakeman and forfeiting his job as water carrier.

Rodgers loved to travel the country in this fashion and loved being exposed to the back-country folk music of the different areas. He fell in love with the sound of yodeling and guitar playing. At work camps, he would sing and play for the other men, but never chose to record any of his music. At the age of 27, Jimmie was hit with a near fatal case of tuberculosis. He made up his mind at this point that he was meant to be in the music business.

Rodgers' illness had left him unable to work on the railway, so he decided to leave and use his time for songwriting and performing. He began by performing in black-face comedy shows and then singing in a traveling variety show. He met with guitarist Ernest Helton for the first time in 1926, with whom he began to develop his trademark yodel.

He moved to North Carolina in 1927, deciding that the climate and the culture there would suit him better. In August of that year, RCA executives met Jimmie for the first time and asked him to give recording a shot. He recorded "Sleep Baby Sleep" and "The Soldier's Sweetheart" which, as an A/B side record went on the sell more than one million copies in the United States.

He went on to record more than one hundred other records and to become one of the most popular country artists of all time. He was unsurpassed as a solo entertainer, but after only 5 years as a star, he became bedridden with illness. His best selling album, the Bristol Sessions, was actually recorded on his deathbed. Listening to the music, it is melodic and full of life, happy and positive, different from most of his somber yodeling music of before.

Tuberculosis claimed his life on May 26, 1933, at the age of 35. In 1961, twenty-eight years after his death, Jimmie was honored by his induction into the Country Music Hall Of Fame. He was the third inductee to the Hall. Jimmie Rodgers remains to this day beloved by those who have known his music.



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