The Southern Accents of Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams

Presented by Catherine Evans Davies, Ph.D., professor of linguistics in the English Department at the University of Alabama

A Southern accent, whether native to the singer or not, has become an essential element of the performance of country music. Going back to the beginnings, this presentation examines accent as a dimension of the Southern dialects of Jimmie Rogers (born 1897) and Hank Williams (born 19230, who represent two generations of speakers of “Piney Woods Southern” from an area extending from east central Mississippi across central Alabama. Analyzing both recorded song and speech (for Jimmie Rodgers the two skits with the Carter Family, and for Hank Williams the Health and Happiness Radio Shows), this presentation draws on data from the Linguistic Atlas of the Gulf States to show similarities and differences between the vernacular speech of these two founders of country music. The personal histories of the two men are considered in terms of the effect on their accents, and the presentation includes sound clips that the audience participates in analyzing.

Davies can bring her laptop to show a PowerPoint presentation but will need (1) an LCD projector, (2) a suitable screen, and (3) audio capabilities to project the sound from the laptop to the audience.

Contact Catherine Davies to book this presentation
(205) 345-8918