Paul Kingsbury

Bluegrass is a very rhythm oriented music, highly structured and organized…

Interview with Paul Kingsbury, country music writer

© Lilly Drumeva-O’Reilly

Paul Kingsbury is the author of The Grand Ole Opry History of Country Music and Vinyl Hayride: Country Music Album Covers and was the editor-in-chief of The Journal of Country Music from 1985-1997. His name is listed in numerous Country Music Hall of Fame publications where he was a staff writer. I met with Paul in Nashville in October 2013. We sat in a café in The Gulch and chatted over a cup of tea and cakes.

Are you a musician? How did you get involved with country music?

No, not really. I play guitar at home. My parents are from New York City. We moved to Memphis. I saw country music on TV – The Porter Wagoner Show, Hee Haw and others. My parents were not interested but I became curious about it. I continued to follow country music in high school, although it wasn’t cool. In college I listened to it a lot. I majored in English at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. I was fortunate in my early 20s to get a job at the Country Music Hall Of Fame as a writer. I stayed there for 16 years. It was a graduate education in country music. I was doing a lot of research.

What do you like about country music?

The simple storytelling. The clever lyrical twist. The “twang sound” of the steel guitar. The memorable melodies,

How would you define bluegrass?

It is a style of country music, driven by acoustic instruments: banjos, mandolins, fiddles, guitars… Its up-tempo tunes usually feature virtuoso style of playing. There are lots of opportunities for instrumental solos. There are also slow songs, gospels, vocal quartets. It is a very rhythm oriented music, highly structured and organized.

Who are you favorite artists?

Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe. From the newer ones – Ashton Shepherd.

What is the profile of the country music listener?

Oh, I haven’t seen the newest statistics. But probably – more females, age early forties, living in the suburbs, good income, with families… The Country Music Association has the newest data.

Thanks for your time and the wonderful books! I’ll use them for my research.

Lilly Drumeva