Sacred Steel is a pedal-steel guitar style that evolved in the African-American Pentecostal denomination The House of God, Which Is the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth. Brothers and lap steel players Willie and Truman Eason, inspired by the electric blues and Hawaiian steel guitar of the 1920s and 30s, brought the sound to two branches of the church, the Keith and Jewell dominions. Its hallmark: "talking guitar," in which the sliding steel emphasizes and mimics the words of preachers and singers. In the 1970s, a new "Motor City" tradition began, featuring the more complicated pedal steel guitar. This body of music was known mainly in church circles until two things happened: first, folklorist Robert Stone became interested in the music and relased several CD collections. And then, church player Robert Randolph (and his Family Band) began taking Sunday morning's music out onSaturday night. [more inside]
So You Think You Hate Country Music? Then listen to this. The roots of American country music may surprise you. In this series of NPR programs, trace the gradual development of real country music through the first half of the 20th century. Learn how a woman's instrument of the late 1800s, the parlor guitar, became the the central symbol of country and rock; see how African-American musical forms like gospel and blues meshed with the development of country and early rock and influenced the traditional forms in turn; listen to German-Mexican hybrids of accordian style; find out why women had so many honky-tonk torch songs to sing in the late 40s. The series contains hours of content (narrative, interviews, music tracks), and a multitude of excellent links for deeper digging.