CVHS to host spring program

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2022

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The spring program of the Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society (CVHS) will be taking place virtually at 3 p.m. EDT Sunday.  The presenter, Dr. Steve Goodson, will be discussing Atlanta’s important role in the early growth and popularity of country music. Goodson is a long-time professor of history at the University of West Georgia and an authority on the history of country music in the Deep South. This will be Goodson’s second program for the CVHS. He’d previously spoken on the life and music of Hank Williams.

In the 1920s, it was Atlanta, not Nashville, that was the nation’s epicenter for producing country music records.

“It was the nation’s main country music recording center in the 1920s,” Goodson said.

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The presentation will explore how Atlanta lost that position to Nashville in the later decades.

Goodson attributes Atlanta’s prominent position in the country music of that era to three key factors: (1) the fact that Atlanta itself was a very colorful place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, (2) Ralph Preer, who lived there, was a highly influential artists and repertoire (A&R) man for the then-popular Okeh record label, and (3) Fiddlin’ John Carson, who recorded the first country hit in Atlanta in 1923.

Goodson will be talking about a former site at 152 Nassau Street in Atlanta. In the 1920s, a recording studio was located there, and the leading country music stars of the day put their music to vinyl in that studio. On that same site today is a Jimmy Buffet Hotel and Restaurant.

The old studio was torn down following a lengthy (and ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to save it. Goodson was fortunate enough to visit the site before its demolition and has first-hand knowledge of the building.

Goodson is a native of Montgomery and grew up in nearby Prattville. He earned a B.A. in history from Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) in 1988 and a Ph.D. in history from Emory University in 1995. He is now a full professor at West Georgia and has served for 12 years as chairman of the History Department.

In 2002, his book, “Highbrows, Hillbillies and Hellfire: Public Entertainment in Atlanta, 1880-1930,” published by the University of Georgia Press, won the Georgia Historical Society’s Bell Award as the year’s best book on Georgia history. Bell is the co-editor of “The Hank Williams Reader,” published by the Oxford University Press. This publication is a detailed account of the life and career of a country music legend and has received much critical acclaim.

“Join us for a very interesting and informative presentation this coming Sunday,” said CVHS President Malinda Powers.

To take part in the virtual meeting, e-mail prior to noon on Sunday. You will be sent the Zoom link with instructions of how to join the online meeting.