Tennessee Music Pathways marker installed on courthouse lawn in honor of DeFord Bailey

September 15, 2021
DeFord Bailey Family with the new Tennessee Pathways Marker in Carthage, Tenn.

On Tuesday morning, September 14, the Smith County Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development hosted a dedication ceremony for the newly installed Tennessee Music Pathways marker in honor of Deford Bailey. Several local dignitaries, along with representatives from the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame attended the ceremony. Watch the full dedication ceremony below:

From the big cities to the small communities, Tennessee Music Pathways program identifies, explains, and preserves the legacy of music in Tennessee. Be it a story of the past, a star of the present, or the promise of the future, Tennessee Music Pathways help you follow the music.

Born December 14, 1899, into a farming family in rural Smith County, Tennessee, Bailey lost his mother soon thereafter, and his aunt Barbara and her husband, Clark Odum, became his foster parents. Polio, which struck Bailey at age three, stunted his growth and left his back somewhat bent, but what he lacked in physical stature he made up for in talent and determination. As he later explained to researcher David Morton, he began learning harmonica as a young child: “My folks didn’t give me no rattler, they gave me a harp.”