Rare DeFord Bailey Record is Prominent Addition to New Exhibit at Fontanel
Nashville, Tenn. –February 23, 2011—Pat Bullard, a LifeWorks Foundation trustee and founder of the Nashville Music Garden, recently presented The Fontanel Mansion & Farm a priceless piece of Nashville’s music history, a rare, original 78 recording of DeFord Bailey’s “Ice Water Blues/Davidson County Blues” accompanied by photos of Bailey with the original members of the Grand Ole Opry cast, circa 1920.
Noted DeFord Bailey biographer David Morton gifted the record to the Nashville Music Garden and feels its place at The Fontanel Mansion is fitting. “I gave this record to the Nashville Music Garden, because of their dedication to making people aware of DeFord Bailey and his most significant role in the early development of the country music industry in Nashville," said Morton. "The record is one of my favorites with 'Ice Water Blues,' DeFord’s classic rendition of a fiddle tune he learned from his grandfather, and 'Davidson County Blues,' a version of his popular 'Cow Cow Blues.' I am amazed and pleased with what the Nashville Music Garden has done with the record.”
Dubbed “The Harmonica Wizard” and breaking ground as the first African-American performer on the Grand Ole Opry, Bailey has been called “the most influential harmonica player in the first half of the 20th century.” In fact, longtime Opry announcer, “Judge” George D. Hay, consistently credited Bailey as the inspiration for the naming of the Opry. On October 2, 1928, Judge Hay arranged for Victor Records to make the first known recordings in Nashville and specially requested that Bailey be part of the history-making session held in the city’s YMCA building. Bailey recorded eight tunes in this session, two of which are on the record now displayed at Fontanel.
Marc Oswald, co-owner of Fontanel, says the one-of-a-kind memorabilia is a valuable part of Fontanel’s collection. “Our original intention for Fontanel was not only to give Barbara Mandrell’s fans the opportunity to tour the home she and her husband, Ken Dudney, built, but also to see and touch music history dating back many decades. This DeFord Bailey recording is a noteworthy piece of history we are very proud to display.”
Bailey was controversially ousted from the Grand Ole Opry in 1941 with sources at the time citing licensing issues. While he continued to play his harmonica every day of his life while operating a shoe shine shop, he once lamented that he often played to “four walls and to God.” After years of faithful lobbying by friends and fans, DeFord Bailey was inducted into The Country Music Hall of Fame in November 2005, and he is now recognized as a critical part of Nashville’s music history.
“It is a wonderful idea to display and recognize my father's music, since he was one of the first stars of the Grand Ole Opry, along with Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Bill Monroe and Uncle Dave Macon,” said Bailey’s daughter, Christine Bailey Craig.
About the Nashville Music Garden:
Located in Walk of Fame Park in downtown Nashville (corner of Fourth Avenue and Demonbreun), the idea for the Nashville Music Garden was born when country music legend Barbara Mandrell gave her namesake rose to garden founder and friend, Pat Bullard. The garden is a “living” walk of fame filled with over six dozen varieties of roses and daylilies named in honor of the music and artists synonymous with Nashville. The garden, created as a way to recognize these artists, songs and industry leaders and also beautify Music City, is the first to assemble all the flowers of the Nashville Music Garden Collection in one place for the public to enjoy.
About the Fontanel Mansion & Farm:
The Fontanel Mansion, a 27,000 square foot log home formerly owned by Country Music Hall of Fame® member Barbara Mandrell, opened to the public for guided tours on June 7, 2010. Located less than 15 minutes from downtown Nashville, The Mansion at Fontanel boasts three stories, over 20 rooms, thirteen bathrooms, five fireplaces, two kitchens, indoor pool and even an indoor shooting range on 136 acres of pristine land. The home and grounds have been the setting for numerous photo and video shoots, CMT's top-rated "Gone Country" show and most recently the hit Hollywood movie Country Strong. Nashville's only country music mansion tour, the Mansion at Fontanel gives visitors a sneak peek into the lives of country music greats by providing a truly interactive experience!
New additions to the property include The Farm House Restaurant, offering southern-style comfort food with a fun creative twist. The Woods is an outdoor music venue with a capacity of 4,500 surrounded by the woods of the Fontanel property. The Trails provide a two-mile system of free trails for both locals and visitors. The Studio Gallery is a 5,000 square foot multi-use performing arts facility that will feature the exciting Music City On Stage! dinnertainment show beginning in May, 2011.
The property is managed by Fontanel Attractions, made up of entertainment entrepreneurs Dale Morris and Marc Oswald, world-class developer, Alex Marks and Tom Morales, owner of TomKats, Inc., as the operating partner. For directions, hours, ticket prices and more, visit www.FontanelMansion.com
For more information on Fontanel contact:
Craig Campbell/ Campbell Entertainment Group