The History of Bluegrass Music

Washington Bluegrass Mt St HelensThe history  of bluegrass music begins with the people who brought music to America in the 1600s from Ireland, Scotland, and England. Their basic styles of music are generally considered to be the roots of today's modern bluegrass. As Jamestown settlers began to move to the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia, they wrote songs about day-to-day life in their new homeland. Since most of these people lived in rural areas, the songs reflected life on the farm or in the hills. This music was referred to as country music or mountain music.

Unlike country, bluegrass singing is usually high-pitched in the style of Bill Monroe, "The Father of Bluegrass" originated the "high, lonesome sound" enjoyed by many to this day.

The word "bluegrass" itself was used to identify this form of music started in the late 1950s and was believed to be derived from the name of the seminal Blue Grass Boys band, formed in 1939 with Bill Monroe as its leader.

Washington Bluegrass 2019 Mt St HelensAnother unique attribute of bluegrass is the tradition of soloing, or "passing a break." Anyone with an instrument is invited to take a turn soloing, no matter their age or expertise.

In the 1960s, the concept of the “bluegrass festival” was first introduced, featuring multiple bands. Carlton Haney, from Reidsville, North Carolina is credited with envisioning and producing the first weekend-long bluegrass music festival, which was held in Fincastle, Virginia in 1965.

The availability of traditional music broadcasting and recording, nationwide bluegrass festivals, and movie, television, and commercial soundtracks featuring bluegrass music have helped to share the music with many fans worldwide.

In addition to the classic style born in 1945 that is widely performed, bluegrass bands today reflect influences from traditional and fusion jazz, contemporary country music, Celtic music, rock & roll (“newgrass” or progressive bluegrass), old-time music, and Southern gospel music.

-Derived from many sources