DeFord Bailey

DeFord Bailey

About DeFord Bailey

DeFord Bailey (December 14, 1899 - July 2, 1982) was an American country music star from the 1920s until 1941. Bailey was both the first performer to be introduced as playing on the Grand Ole Opry and also the first African-American performer on the show. He played several instruments but is best known for his harmonica tunes. A grandson of slaves, Bailey was born near the Bellwood community in Smith County, Tennessee, and learned to play the harmonica at the age of three when he contracted polio (or as it was called at the time 'infantile paralysis'). During his year-long confinement to bed he developed his distinctive style of playing. In 1918, he moved to Nashville performing locally as an amateur. His first documented radio appearance was June 19, 1926 on WSM in Nashville. On December 10, 1927, he premiered his trademark number, 'Pan American Blues' on a show then known as the 'WSM Barn Dance'.

Contributions by Shearonink, Bms4880, and Drewish.