[Item #80739] Howdy Judge [Inscribed]. RACIST LITERATURE, George D. HAY, The Solemn Old Judge, COUNTRY MUSIC INDUSTRY.

Howdy Judge [Inscribed]

Nashville: The McQuiddy Press, (1926). First Edition. First printing. Inscribed on front endpaper: "To Nettie Spielman / with best wishes from / Geo. D. Hay, "Solemn Old Judge," dated 1933. Tight, Near Fine copy, lacking the dustwrapper.

Hay (1895-1968) started his career in print journalism but made his name as a radio personality, primarily in Nashville where he was the originator and long-time Master of Ceremonies of the Grand Ole Opry program on WSM, from which the venerable live stage variety show at the Ryman Auditorium drew its name. Between musical acts, Hay would intersperse comic interludes in the character of "The Solemn Old Judge," a character he had first invented for his column "Howdy Judge" in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. These columns are reproduced here; they are mostly in the form of racist caricature, very much drawn from the minstrel show tradition, the typical premise being an African-American character appearing in court before a white judge, with much white-supremacist hilarity to follow, the Black voices written in exaggerated dialect.

Hay adapted his "Solemn Old Judge" persona to radio, along the way establishing the basic character of the popular American "hillbilly" music industry – white, southern, and racially segregated – that placed country music in direct opposition to the race-mixing, socially "degenerate" music of the northern cities, especially New York. In the words of sociologist Richard Peterson: "The down home rural card was a good card to play...because there was such fear of what was happening in the cities. There was so much race mixing, there was so much jazz, there was all kinds of degradation in music. Here was a way of finding a pure, unadulterated, American music that came out of an Anglo-Saxon background. They [Hay and the Grand Ole Opry] made up a whole bunch of stuff..." (quoted in American Public Media, "New York Clashes With the Heartland," audio documentary). An historically important book despite its racially offensive underpinnings, somewhat scarce and seldom found signed.

Price: $450.00

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