Buell Kazee

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Buell Kazee
Born August 29, 1900
Origin Magoffin County, Kentucky, USA
Died August 31, 1976(1976-08-31) (aged 76)
Genres Country
Occupation(s) Country artist
Instruments Banjo
Years active 1927 – 1960s
Notable instruments
Banjo

Buell Kazee (August 29, 1900 - August 31, 1976) was an American country and folk singer. He is considered one of the most successful folk musicians of the 1920s and experienced a career comeback during the American folk music revival of the 1960s due in part to his inclusion on the Anthology of American Folk Music.

Early life[edit]

Buell Kazee was born at the foot of Burton Fork, Kentucky, a mountain in Magoffin County. By the age of five, Kazee found publicity playing banjo at church. After he graduated high school, he studied English, Greek and Latin at Georgetown College.

Career[edit]

In 1927, Kazee received an inquiry from Brunswick Records, asking if he would consider recording in their studio in New York City. Kazee traveled to New York, and eventually signed with the label. His first record was "Roll On John" backed with "John Hardy". Over the next two years, backed by an assortment of New York musicians, he recorded 51 songs, including such hits as "Gray Lady," "The Sporting Bachelors," and "The Little Orphan Child." His greatest success was On Top Of Old Smoky, which has been covered over 15,000 times.

Kazee's lyrics were often dominated by religious subjects, but also treated everyday problems of the working man. After his marriage in the early 1930s, he moved to the Vocalion label, but as the Depression worsened, Kazee recorded less and less, and eventually left the music business and worked for the next 22 years as a pastor in Morehead, Kentucky.

Withdrawal and revival[edit]

After the Great Depression in the United States, Kazee performed only rarely and devoted himself entirely to the ministry, the profession that he had actually wanted to pursue since his teens. During the 1960s folk music boom, Kazee began a comeback and started to perform again. He made joint appearances with other former folk stars like Dock Boggs and Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson at the Newport Folk Festival. He also wrote and published three books.

Buell Kazee died on 31 August 1976 at age 76.

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

Song titles Catalog number Notes
Brunswick
Roll On John / John Hardy 144
Rock Island / Old Whiskey Bill 145
Darling Cora / East Virginia 154
The Ship That's Sailing High on the Water / If You Love Your Mother 155
The Roving Cowboy / The Little Mohee 156
The Old Maid / The Sporting Bachelors 157
Faded Coat of Blue / Don't Forget Me, Little Darlin' 206 Pseudonym of Ray Lyncy
Snow Deer / Red Wing 210 with Sookie Hobbs; Red Wing originally by Riley Puckett
The Orphan Girl / Poor Little Orphan Boy 211
The Cowboy's Farewell / Lady Gray 212
The Wagoner's Lad / The Butcher's Boy (The Railroad Boy) 213
The Dying Soldier / Short Life of Trouble 214
Little Bessie / My Mother 215 Little Bessie later covered by the Alabama Barnstomers
In The Shadow of the Pines / You Taught Me How to Love 216
Poor Boy Long Way from Home / You Are False but I'll Forgive You 217
Married Girl's Troubles / Gamblin' Blues 218
Steel-A-Goin' Down / The Hobo's Last Ride 330
A Mountain Boy Makes His First Record / A Mountain Boy Makes His First Record, Pt. 2 338
Toll the Bells / The Blind Man 351
Roving Cowboy / Little Mohee 436
The Wagoner's Lad / The Butcher's Boy (The Railroad Boy) 437
Cowboy Trail / I'm Rolling Along 481
Vocalion
In The Shadow of the Pines / You Taught Me How to Love Now You Teach Me to Forget 5221
My Mother / Little Bessie 5231 Brunswick 215

Albums[edit]

Year Album Title Label Catalog Number Comments
1958 Buell Kazee Sings and Plays Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
1978 Buell Kazee June Appal Recordings JA0009 Reissued in 2007
2005 Legendary Kentucky

External links[edit]