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Buell Kazee
Buell Kazee
Buell Kazee was a minister who played banjo and sang the ancient songs of his beloved Kentucky mountains during the 1920s. Considered one of the very best folk singers in U.S. history, he was a master of the high, "lonesome" singing style of the Appalachian balladeer. Kazee was born in the foothill town of Burton Fork, KY, and learned most of his songs from his family. He began picking banjo at age five and often played during local gatherings. He prepared for the clergy even as a teen and after high school began studying English, Greek, and Latin at Georgetown College, KY. It was there that he began to understand the significance of his family and friends' traditional songs. Kazee formally studied singing and music in order to transcribe the old songs and make them more contemporary. Following his graduation in 1925, he gave a "folk music" concert at the University of Kentucky. He wore a tie and tails while playing the banjo and piano, sang in his specially trained "formal" voice, and gave lectures about the history of the songs. The show was a great success, so he repeated it several times over the following years.
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