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The Bradley Kincaid Collection
1923-1980 (bulk 1925-1970)
Berea College Special CollectionsBerea, Kentucky 40404
Open to researchers.
[Identification of item], The Bradley Kincaid Collection, SAA13, 1923-1980 (bulk 1925-1970),Southern Appalachian Archives, Berea College, Berea, Ky.
6.4 Linear Feet
Bradley Kincaid was born at Point Leavell, Garrard County, Kentucky on July 13, 1895, the fourth of nine children. His parents, William and Elizabeth Hurt Kincaid, were the singers from whom he learned his first songs. His father, a farm laborer, once traded one of his foxhounds for a guitar, which young Kincaid learned to play. For many years he used this "Hound Dawg" guitar to entertain family and friends.
Kincaid attended Garrard County's Back Creek School through fifth grade. He worked in a Louisville wheel shop and then on a farm until 1914 when at age 19, he entered the Berea College Foundation School as a sixth-grader. He left after the eighth grade to join the military, serving two years during World War I. For a brief period after the war, he worked as salesman for the Storrs-Schaefer Tailoring Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Kincaid soon resumed his education at Berea and it was during this time that his interest in music deepened. With the encouragement of Thomas Edwards, one of his teachers, he began systematically collecting ballads and other songs. His search lead to several trips throughout the eastern part of the state and the material collected was eventually included in thirteen published songbooks.
Kincaid graduated from the Berea College Academy (high school) in 1921 at age 26. A year later he married his Berea music teacher, Irma Foreman, a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He worked in Kentucky as a Y.M.C.A. district secretary for two years. He then moved to Chicago to attend Y.M.C.A. College (now known as George Williams College.)
Singing with a college quartet led to a 1928 solo audition for the National Barn Dance, a radio program heard widely throughout the Midwest on Chicago's 50,000 watt WLS. He became a regular cast member on the program and was soon being billed as "the Kentucky Mountain Boy." His renditions of "Barbara Allen" and other old ballads and songs learned while growing up in Kentucky, drew huge amounts of fan mail and lucrative opportunities for songbook sales and personal appearances in theaters and other venues.
After four years at WLS, he went on to have similar success on radio stations in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Boston and other cities. Among the musicians he partnered with during this period was Kentuckian, Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones. He made numerous commercial recordings for a variety of labels including Gennett, Brunswick, RCA, Decca and those companies' subsidiaries in Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, and Japan. In 1939, while at WHAM in Rochester, New York, he adopted a tent show format for much of his warm weather personal appearance work and continued what he called his "Radio Circus" throughout the remainder of his career. His last major radio work was on WSM's Grand Ole Opry in Nashville from 1942-1947.
From Nashville he moved to Springfield, Ohio where his business efforts included successful stints as a radio station and music store owner. Although pretty much retired from show business, he continued to issue commercial recordings well into the 1970s. He died September 23, 1989 in Springfield, Ohio at age 94.
This collection of correspondence, photographs, news clippings, songbooks, and sheet music from radio ballad singer, Bradley Kincaid was placed in Hutchins Library's Southern Appalachian Archives in the summer of 1975. The collection was given by Loyal Jones who received it from Kincaid. Additional material collected by Jones from Kincaid and others was added in the summer of 1989.
This series includes advertisements and promotions for Kincaid's songbooks and performances along with information concerning Chicago radio station WLS and the National Barn Dance. Arranged chronologically.
This series includes clippings, publications by others, and transcript of a recorded oral history interview. Also included are a discography, list of Kincaid's 300 plus song repertoire, program schedules, and radio addresses he gave.
This series includes typescript, text proofs, and galleys of Loyal Jones' biography of Kincaid, Radio's "Kentucky Mountain Boy" Bradley Kincaid. Correspondence relating to the book's publication is also included.
This series includes radio fan mail, Kincaid's replies, exchanges regarding booking arrangements and a wide variety of other personal and business correspondence. Correspondents of particular interest include Berea College Presidents William J. and Francis Hutchins, John Lair, D.K. Wilgus, Doc Schneider, and Loyal Jones. Arranged chronologically 1923-1981.
This series includes a variety of song lyrics (without musical notation) that were sung by Bradley Kincaid, or were sent to him by various fans. Arranged alphabetically by title.
This series includes pieces of published sheet music dating from the late 1800s through about 1960. There are additionally words to songs (typed-without musical notation). All arranged alphabetically by title.
This series includes songbooks published and collected by Kincaid, and photo-copies of three typed, loose-leaf ones that he compiled (words only with title index). Arranged alphabetically by title.
Much of the oversized sheet music dates from the turn-of-the- century. The remainder of the series includes incomplete sheets of music. Arranged alphabetically by title.
This series includes several photographs of Kincaid, and other early radio music performers dating from the 1920s through the 1940s. Included also, are more recent ones of Kincaid that document various 1970s performances at Berea College.
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