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From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
William Smith ("Bill") Monroe, known as "the father of Bluegrass music," was born September 13, 1911, near Rosine, Kentucky. He was the youngest of eight children born to James Buchanan and Malissa (Vandiver) Monroe. His Ohio County birthplace lies in western Kentucky, miles from the Bluegrass area and even farther from the eastern Kentucky mountains traditionally associated with bluegrass music.
Monroe came from a musical family. His mother sang and played the fiddle for local dances, his brother Birch played the fiddle, and his brother Charlie played the guitar. Bill Monroe, so the story goes, chose the mandolin so that he would have a better chance to perform with his brothers. After his parents died and his brothers left home for work in the factories of Detroit in 1921, Monroe lived with his uncle, Pendleton ("Pen") Vandiver, whom he credits with teaching him to play the mandolin. By the time Monroe left Rosine to join his brothers, he had already absorbed what would be the primary influences in bluegrass music: the timing of his fiddle-playing Uncle Pen, the high-pitched, emotional singing he had heard in the country churches and singing schools, the mandolin playing of Walter Taylor (Ohio County 's "Mandolin King"), and -- perhaps most important for the development of bluegrass music as opposed to mountain string band or western swing -- the blues-style guitar playing of Arnold Shultz, a black who let Monroe play alongside him at dances. Monroe's distinctive chordal "chop" on the mandolin emphasized the second and fourth beat, which gave bluegrass its drive. In the early 1950s this style was first referred to as "bluegrass."
Bill and Charlie Monroe, working as the Monroe Brothers, performed on North Carolina radio shows beginning in 1927. It was in the Carolina mountains, not those of Kentucky, that Bill was influenced by mountain ballads and mountain-style string bands. In 1938 Charlie and Bill split up, Charlie forming the Kentucky Partners, and Bill the Blue Grass Boys. Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys band, which later included Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and Chubby Wise, joined Nashville's WSM radio in 1939. Monroe then moved to Goodletsville, Tennessee. During the 1940s Monroe combined baseball with bluegrass in traveling throughout the South. He made certain his backup performers could play baseball and often he could field two teams. At its peak the Monroe road show traveled in seven trucks and a stretched-out bus, carrying 1,000 folding seats and a 7,000-capacity tent, a generator-run light plant, a complete kitchen, and the baseball paraphernalia.
Although Monroe has recorded for over fifty years and sold more than 25 million records (under the RCA Victor label during 1936-41, Columbia 1941-49, and Decca/MCA 1950), he considers himself an in-person performer. His performances invariably include ballad-style tunes that he calls "true songs." Monroe is especially well known for his high-pitched, fast-moving renditions of "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Molly and Tenbrook," "My Rose of Old Kentucky," and "Muleskinner Blues." He has performed in all the states except Alaska, as well as in Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, and England. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970.
Bill and Caroline Monroe, his first wife, had two children, Melissa and James, before their divorce. His second marriage ended in separation.
GAIL KING, Entry Author
Selected Sources from UK Libraries:
Monroe, Bill, and Blue Grass Boys. Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys. New York, NY: Columbia/Legacy, 1992. Columbia Country Classics.
Gebhardt, Steve., Larry. Nager, Bill Monroe, and WinStar Home Entertainment. Bill Monroe Father of Bluegrass Music. S.l.]: WinStar Home Entertainment, 1999.
Rosenberg, Neil V. Bluegrass : A History. Urbana: U of Illinois, 1985. Print. Music in American Life.