The first commercial recording of what can be considered country music was "Sallie Gooden" by fiddlist A.C. (Eck) Robertson in 1922 for Victor Records. Columbia Records began issuing records with "hillbilly" music (series 15000D "Old Familiar Tunes") as early as 1924. A year earlier on June 14, 1923 Fiddlin' John Carson recorded "Little Log Cabin in the Lane" for Okeh Records. Vernon Dalhart was the first country singer to have a nationwide hit in May of 1924 with "Wreck of the Old '97". The flip side of this record was "Lonesome Road Blues", which also became very popular. Other important early recording artists were Riley Puckett, Don Richardson, Fiddlin' John Carson, Al Hopkins, Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers and The Skillet Lickers. The steel guitar entered country music as early as 1922, when Jimmie Tarlton met famed Hawaiian guitarist Frank Ferera on the West Coast.
In the time of the Great Depression came a new rise in the populatiry of Country Music. This is due to the origins of the genera itself having been always associated with reflecting social change. Things really started to pick up for country music in the landmark recording sessions that took place in Bristol, Virgina in 1927, it was there where Hall of Fame country singers Jimmy Rodgers from Mississippi and the Carters from Virginia recorded "The Soldiers Sweetheart" under the brilliant conductor Ralph Peer. This was the first time that America had the chance to embrace country music during the Depression The reason that America flocked to country music in the 1930s was due to the way the music was easily to relate to. By the 1930s, due to the Depression, 55 percent of the people in the agricultural field did not own the land that they cultivated. With this level of poverty and the origins of country coming from the southern farm towns people did not have any trouble identifying with what they were listening to. As Bill Malone states, that country music is so deep in its roots that it will forever remain a genre of music for the working class. Not only was country music popular in the agricultural populations, its reach extended into the field of industrial factory workers. In the 1930s the small town of Carolina Piedmont underwent a large change from a farm town into the largest textile producing region in the world. It was during this time that country music was listened to in greater numbers by the factory workers that could identify well with the songs written about the struggles of an American Citizen working in the factory.
The origins of modern country music can be traced to two seminal influences and a remarkable coincidence. Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family are widely considered to be the founders of country music, and their songs were first captured at a historic recording session in Bristol, Tennessee/Bristol, Virginia on August 1, 1927, where Ralph Peer was the talent scout and sound recordist.
Rodgers fused hillbilly country, gospel, jazz, blues, pop, cowboy, and folk; and many of his best songs were his compositions, including “Blue Yodel”, which sold over a million records and established Rodgers as the premier singer of early country music.
Beginning in 1927, and for the next 17 years the Carters recorded some 300 old-time ballads, traditional tunes, country songs, and Gospel hymns, all representative of America's southeastern folklore and heritage.
One effect of the Great Depression was to reduce the number of records that could be sold. Radio, and broadcasting, became a popular source of entertainment, and "barn dance" shows featuring country music were started all over the South, as far north as Chicago, and as far west as California. One of the most important of these shows was the Grand Ole Opry from 650 WSM in Nashville, TN. Some of the early stars on the Opry were Uncle Dave Macon, Roy Acuff, and African American harmonica player DeFord Bailey. WSM's 50,000 watt signal could often be heard across the country. .