Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Hazel Smith, Billy Smith, and Terry Smith, February 16, 2011

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:00 - Hazel Smith on her childhood and family life

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Partial Transcript: My name is Hazel Smith.

Segment Synopsis: Hazel Smith talks about her childhood and family growing up. Smith also describes moving to Nashville, Tennessee later in her life with her sons.

Keywords: Bluegrass music; Country music; Hazel Smith (Artist); Moving; Songwriters

Subjects: Abuse; Bluegrass musicians; Caswell County (N.C.); Childhood; Children; Early life; Families; Grandmothers; Labor; Lyricists; Mothers; Nashville (Tenn.); Sons; Storytelling; Tobacco; Tobacco farms; Work

00:03:04 - Hazel Smith's work with Bill Monroe / Monroe's impact on bluegrass

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Partial Transcript: Um--tell us the story behind "Walk Softly on My Heart."

Segment Synopsis: Hazel Smith discusses her working relationship with Bill Monroe and her work as a songwriter. Hazel Smith also considers the massive impact of Bill Monroe on bluegrass music.

Keywords: Bill Monroe (Artist); Blue Moon of Kentucky (Song); Bluegrass music; Bluegrass songwriters; Bob Dylan (Artist); Commercial recordings; Earl Scruggs (Artist); Elvis Presley (Artist); Fiddlers; Kenny Baker (Artist); Songwriters; Thank God for Kentucky (Song); Walk Softly on this Heart of Mine (Song)

Subjects: Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Cancer; Death; Grand ole opry (Radio program); Interpersonal relations; Lyricists; MCA Records, Inc; Monroe, Bill, 1911-1996; Music--Performance.; Musical performance; Nashville (Tenn.); Personality; Radio stations; Reputation; Songs; Storytelling

00:11:01 - Billy Smith and Terry Smith's memories of Bill Monroe

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Partial Transcript: Well why don't you all just--uh--speak to the camera over there and tell us your memories of--of Mr. Bill.

Segment Synopsis: Billy and Terry Smith share their memories of Bill Monroe. The Smiths recall working on Monroe's farm and the influence of Monroe on their music. Bill Monroe's overall influence on bluegrass music is also evaluated.

Keywords: Bill Monroe (Artist); Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys (Artist); Bluegrass music; Bulls; Country music; Earl Scruggs (Artist); Farm work; Farm workers; Fence; Fiddlers; Gotta Travel On (Song); Jimmy Martin (Artist); Jobs; Joe Greene (Artist); Kenny Baker (Artist); Live performances; Music mastery; Osborne Brothers (Artist); Passion; Skills mastery; Versatile

Subjects: Albums; Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Bulls; Competition; Cows; Farms; Fathers; Influences; Interpersonal relations; Memories; Monroe, Bill, 1911-1996; Music teachers; Music--Performance.; Musical performance; Personality; Snakes; Storytelling; Work

00:28:51 - Hazel Smith on Bill Monroe's musicality / Hazel Smith's songwriting

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Partial Transcript: I wanted to say--add one thing.

Segment Synopsis: Hazel Smith recalls additional memories of Bill Monroe. Bill Monroe's innate musicality is assessed. Smith describes her activities in songwriting, including purchasing songs from other lyricists.

Keywords: Arthur Smith (Artist); Bill Monroe (Artist); Bluegrass music; Bluegrass songwriters; Buying songs; Characteristics; Country Music Television (CMT); Country music; Hank Williams (Artist); Jobs; Selling songs; Songwriters; Southern Fried Flicks with Hazel Smith (Television program); Versatility

Subjects: Advertisements; Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Career moves; Careers; Careers & opportunities; Copyright; Country Music Television Network; Interpersonal relations; Lyricists; Monroe, Bill, 1911-1996; Music--Performance.; Musical performance; Personality; Selling; Songs; Storytelling; Television programs; Work

00:37:19 - Bessie Lee Mauldin / Bill Monroe's farm

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Partial Transcript: You weren't the only woman that wrote songs for him.

Segment Synopsis: Hazel, Billy, and Terry Smith talk about Bessie Lee Mauldin and Mauldin's relationship with Bill Monroe. Billy and Terry Smith recall more experiences from working at Bill Monroe's farm.

Keywords: Bassists; Bill Monroe (Artist); Bluegrass music; Characteristics; Charlie Monroe (Artist); Conflict; Country music; Farm work; Female musicians; Mauldin, Bessie Lee (Artist); Pigs

Subjects: Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Cattle; Farms; Foxhounds; Horses; Hunting; Interpersonal relations; Livestock; Memories; Monroe, Bill, 1911-1996; Music--Performance.; Musical performance; Personality; Pigs; Reputation; Storytelling; Work

00:42:58 - Stories of Bill Monroe

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Partial Transcript: And the--the Thanksgiving that--uh--Billy and Terry and Birch and Bill were putting a roof on a barn I believe is what they were doing.

Segment Synopsis: Hazel, Billy, and Terry Smith share memories of a specific Thanksgiving with Bill Monroe and other family members. Billy Smith shares a story about building a shelter with Monroe. Terry Smith recalls a story about Monroe and the dentist. Hazel Smith remembers a story of going with Monroe on a dinner date.

Keywords: Bill Monroe (Artist); Bluegrass music; Construction; Country music; Dinner dates; Gospel music; Gospel songs; Principles

Subjects: Bluegrass music; Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Brothers; Building; Dentists; Dentures; Memories; Monroe, Bill, 1911-1996; Morals; Music--Performance.; Musical performance; Role models; Storytelling; Thanksgiving

00:53:36 - More on working for Bill Monroe

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Partial Transcript: After I got to know him, I realized that he was just wondering if they had peach pie over at Mason's restaurant right now.--(laughs)--

Segment Synopsis: Billy and Terry Smith discuss further what it was like to work on Bill Monroe's farm and at his music shows. Bill and Terry Smith also describe what Bill Monroe was like as a boss.

Keywords: Archie Martin (Artist); Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival; Bean Blossom Festival, Indiana; Bill Monroe (Artist); Bluegrass music; Country music; Farm workers; Mule Skinner Blues (Song)

Subjects: Beanblossom (Ind.); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Careers; Careers & opportunities; Careers moves; Farmers; Farms; Gardening; Indiana; Livestock; Monroe, Bill, 1911-1996; Mules; Music--Performance.; Musical performance; Personality; Reputation; Respect; Work

01:04:29 - Recording music with Bill Monroe / Complex nature of Bill Monroe

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Partial Transcript: Um--so y'all recorded with Bill, late in his life. Tell us about that.

Segment Synopsis: Billy and Terry Smith talk about the opportunity to record music with Bill Monroe. Billy and Terry Smith discuss Bill Monroe's personality. Billy and Terry Smith also consider the differences between Bill Monroe's public persona and Monroe in private.

Keywords: Bluegrass music; Charlie Cushman (Artist); Country music; Gospel music; Long Live the Dead--A Tribute to the Grateful Dead (Album); Mule Skinner Blues (Artist); Passion; Priorities; Recording musicians; Recording sessions; Robert Bowlin (Artist); Sound studios; Thank God for Kentucky (Song); Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine (Song)

Subjects: Albums; Bluegrass music; Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Christianity; Church; Emotions; Farms; Interpersonal relations; Love; Monroe, Bill, 1911-1996; Music--Performance.; Musical performance; Personality; Religion; Reputation; Songs; Spirituality

01:18:39 - Bill Monroe's influence on bluegrass / Bill Monroe's legacy

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Partial Transcript: You know that North Carolina needs to have credit for what they did as far as bluegrass is concerned.

Segment Synopsis: Hazel, Billy, and Terry Smith discuss Bill Monroe's impact on both music as a whole and bluegrass specifically. The Smiths describe Bill Monroe's admiration for the fiddle. The Smiths also detail final memories and legacies of Monroe. The Smiths recall Bill Monroe's funeral and their grief when he passed away.

Keywords: Admiration; Bill Monroe (Artist); Bluegrass music; Country music; Earl Scruggs (Artist); Farm workers; Fiddlers; Fiddles; Funeral processions; Goodbyes; Musical influences; My Last Days on Earth (Song)

Subjects: Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Careers; Farmers; Farms; Funeral rites and ceremonies; Grief; Influences; Interpersonal relations; Legacy; Memories; Monroe, Bill, 1911-1996; Music--Performance.; Musical performance; North Carolina; Ryman Auditorium (Nashville, Tenn.); Storytelling