Music is often thought of as an ageless artform; people from different generations can enjoy the same artists and genres, or at least Real Roots Radio’s Daniel Mullins thinks so! This May, GCPL has teamed up with Real Roots Radio to spotlight some of the older country artists who shaped the music industry for the better in celebration of Older Americans Month.
Each weekday during the Daniel Mullins Midday Music Spectacular, Daniel will share a different older artist and what makes them so influential to the country music community. I had a chance to discuss the show with Daniel and how he feels about music brining folks of all ages together.
Music is often called the universal language. Would you agree that music brings folks of all ages together?
Absolutely! In a world where we are often divided over things like age, music is one of the most unifying elements in our world. It truly brings folks together! Great music is timeless, and it’s exciting for me when I can connect with someone of a different generation over a shared interest like music. Real Roots hosts the Industrial Strength Bluegrass Festival twice a year, and seeing generations of music fans coming together over a love of music is so inspiring.
What would you say is the biggest impact older Americans, artists and listeners alike, have on the country music community and why?
One of the biggest reasons that celebrating veteran members of the country and roots music community is crucial, is that it keeps us grounded. Marty Stuart of the Country Music Hall of Fame said, "I believe in the future of country music, but a future without roots is like a kite with no string." Staying connected to more seasoned artists and fans is one of the best ways to stay grounded as we look toward the future; they can serve as that string tied to the kite that Marty was talking about, and that's critical. That connection to the music's history is vital and is something to be cherished.
Who are some older American artists you think have greatly contributed to the country music industry and how have they done so?
There are countless examples of living legends who are truly trailblazers in country and roots music that are still active today. Willie Nelson turned 90 years young at the end of April. He started out as one of the top songwriters in Nashville, before re-writing the rules in country music as a leader of the "Outlaw Movement" in the early 1970's. All of these years later, he still tours relentlessly and cranks out one or two new albums a year! He is inspiring because he is constantly trying new things: writing powerful new songs, collaborating with newer artists like Billy Strings, and recording tribute albums to non-country artists such as Frank Sinatra and George & Ira Gershwin! He’s never resting on his laurels, which is remarkable to see from someone who is the epitome of a living legend! There are also many stars of the Grand Ole Opry who are continuing to make history on the nation's longest-running live radio show. Country icons like Bill Anderson, Connie Smith, Jeannie Seely and more are staples of this historic program that will be featuring during our Living Legends Spotlight segment this month.
Knowing this month you’ll spotlight some of these artists on your show, The Daniel Mullins Midday Music Spectacular, who are some of your personal favorites and why?
I have great admiration and respect for all of the living legends in country and roots music. A couple stories I am really excited to share this month are those of Mavis Staples and Bobby Osborne. Mavis Staples (83) is beloved all across the American music spectrum, as she is celebrated in rhythm & blues, gospel, country, Americana and more. Seeing how her music has brought folks together throughout her entire career is so inspiring to me and is something I have always strived to do with my radio program. She and her family (The Staple Singers) were real leaders during the Civil Rights movement, and she is still a leader in the roots music community all of these years later – what a wonderful legacy! Bobby Osborne (91) is a member of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame who grew up in the Dayton, OH area, after his parents migrated here from Kentucky to find factory jobs after World War II. Alongside his late brother, Sonny, they honed their style of bluegrass music in the bars and honkytonks in Dayton and Cincinnati, before The Osborne Brothers shared a style of bluegrass with the world now referred to as "industrial strength bluegrass" (a phrase used to refer to bluegrass music connected to southwestern Ohio). Even in his nineties, he continues to perform in the Nashville area, and is even back in the studio working on a new album!
Tune in to Real Roots Radio all May long to celebrate some of the older Americans who shaped country music during Daniel Mullins Midday Music Spectacular every weekday at 11 a.m. Be sure to listen on Wednesdays, as GCPL’s own Adult Services Coordinator Tamar Kreke joins Daniel to discuss all the ways you can celebrate the older Americans in your life and in your community at the library! Find what’s happening at your community library this month at https://greenelibrary.info/blogs/post/older-americans-month/