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CVHS to hold discussion on Hank Williams

The public is welcome to take part in an upcoming discussion on the life and impact of country music icon and Alabama native Hank Williams by Dr. Steve Goodson, co-editor of The Hank Williams Reader at 3 p.m. EST (2 Central Time) Sunday, Jan. 24.

“I’ll Never Make It Out of This World Alive”: The Life and Legacy of Hank Williams” will be the focus of the first quarterly meeting of the Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society (CVHS) for 2021. Due to the ongoing pandemic, this public discussion will be taking place online via Zoom.

Anyone wishing to take part will need to send an active email address to programs@cvhistoricalsociety.org by noon EST on the day of the program. Moderator Charles Powers will respond to each email with specific directions on how to connect before the 3 p.m. meeting.

A Montgomery native, Goodson grew up in nearby Prattville. He received a B.A. in history from Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) in 1988 and his Ph.D. in History from Emory University in 1995. He has been an instructor at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia since 1996. He was the chair of the history department from 2006 until 2018.

Goodson became an avid fan of Hank Williams during his childhood years. His father and older brothers had attended many of his concerts in person. Like the musician, Goodson considered Montgomery his hometown. He has always had a special fondness for the city, its culture and its people. Goodson’s father had a personal collection of 78 rpm Hank Williams records that both he and his brothers listened to frequently.

While a senior at AUM in 1998, Steve and his brother Gary gave a presentation on the life and legacy of Hank Williams. Many in attendance were so impressed that word soon spread to other colleges and universities in Alabama, and the two brothers were asked to do a similar presentation at Jacksonville State University. While still a graduate student, Steve contributed an article on Hank Williams to The Alabama Review, which was well received and established him as an expert on the country music legend. He continued to lecture and speak on the Hank Williams legacy throughout his graduate and post-graduate studies. He’s also continued this as a professor at West Georgia. He has authored the book “Highbrows, Hillbillies and Hellfire: Public Entertainment in Atlanta, 1880-1930,” published in 2002 by the University of Georgia Press. The book received the Georgia Historical Society’s Bell Award, recognizing the best work published that year. In 2014, Goodson became co-editor of The Hank Williams Reader, published by Oxford University Press.

Goodson’s enthusiasm for the life and legacy of Hank Williams comes from his long-standing belief that the Southeastern United States has a rich history of artists, media personalities and others who are often overlooked or otherwise not properly understood by the general public. He believes that the life journey of Hank Williams to country music stardom was a complex and richly detailed journey that encompasses many interesting details of life in rural Alabama in the early and mid 20th century, He has often noted the influence of African-American blues musicians on Williams’ artistry and career as an example of this complex cultural history that is often overlooked by the general public.

“This online meeting will be the first of our four quarterly meetings in 2021,” CVHS President Malinda Powers said. “Our organization has been in continuous operation since its founding in 1953. It’s a membership-based organization with members from all across the U.S. We have dual membership in both the Georgia Historical Society and the Alabama Historical Society.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CVHS hosted five-to-six-day bus tours to various historical sites in the Southeast. These tours depart from and eventually return to the Valley. Past trips have visited prominent sites relating to the American Civil War. Circumstances permitting, a bus trip tentatively scheduled for June 2021 will focus on the Muscogee (Creek) Indians. The trip will take in many prominent sites relating to the Creeks and their Native American predecessors.

To learn more about the Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society, follow, or “like” its Facebook page.