In the 1920s, folk music had made its introduction and was on the rise in the Appalachian region of the United States. Buell Kazee, being born in Burton Fork, Kentucky in 1900 was bound to become apart of this scene as a result of the strong presence of music in this region. He grew up with not only the musical influence of his town and family, but also his church. Buell began pickin’ the banjo at the age of five in his church and later went on to study English, Greek, and Latin.
Buell was taught traditional folk music, which he later looked to contemporize while still maintaining the history and importance that tradition plays in this music. He was asked to record songs for Brunswick in 1927 in New York. His “high lonesome” mountain sound appealed to the new infatuation many had with bluegrass/folk music.
A major influence in his music was religion. As a teenager, Buell prepared for the clergy. In songs such as My Christian Friends, Bread of Heaven, and Eternity, there is a strong presence of Christian influence that shaped his identity as both a musician and minister. He put his music aside in the 1930s to focus on his ministry in Kentucky.
As folk music once again began to boom in the late 1960s, Buell returned to the music scene with a performance at the Newport Folk Festival. He continued singing, playing, and preaching until his death in 1976.
One thought on “Who is Buell Kazee?”
I believe you did a great job capturing a timeline image of Buell Kazee’s life. I find it very amusing that Kazee seems to be one of the few old time bluegrass influences that was not a drinker. In fact, he was the complete opposite. After reading your blog I wondered how Kazee felt at festivals that did have some drinking, smoking or any other act that he would have considered wrong. Your blog also sparked the question of style in my mind. I wonder if his style changed after getting out of music for awhile? All in all, very informative and well written post.